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New Safety Measures for Travelers on U.S.-Bound Flights; Senate Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing on Niger Attack; Two Former Opioid Addicts Helped by Kratom Plant; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 26, 2017 - 10:30   ET



[10:32:24] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. This morning new, tighter security measures for all international flights traveling to the United States.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: So this means extra screening for not only international visitors but U.S. citizens that are coming back to this country.

Let's go straight to our Sara Ganim, she joins us at Newark. Obviously this is one of the international airports where this all kicks in today.

What will be different for people as they come into this country?

SARA GAMIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Poppy, this could really change the way we view traditional airport screening. Starting with the ticket counter in some cases.

So the bottom line here is this is a way to address looming threats, terror threats, against passenger planes without that wildly unpopular airport laptop ban in passenger cabins. Starting today airlines flying overseas flights into the United States must implement these enhanced security measures or they could risk triggering a laptop ban or worse, a ban on certain flights coming into the United States.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announced these new additional screening measures over the summer and said that this was an answer to the laptop ban that airlines did not like, that passengers did not like, that bans passengers from bringing laptops and large electronics into the passenger cabin, forcing them to check them as luggage.

Here's what we're looking at as far as additional screenings starting today. Greater scrutiny of passengers, like I said beginning sometimes all the way back at the ticket counter. Enhanced screening of electronic devices and better deployment of canines that detect explosives.

This affects 105 different countries, more than 180 airlines, more than 2,000 flights, flying into the United States daily. When Secretary Kelly first announced these new changes he said this was a necessary measure to thwart plots -- terror plots to blow up passenger planes. He said, simply putting it, we have to make it harder for the terrorists to succeed -- John and Poppy.

HARLOW: Sara Ganim, really important headlines and reporting at Newark for us, thank you very much.

Moments from now on Capitol Hill the Senate Armed Service Committee holds a hearing on the deadly attack on those U.S. troops in Niger.

BERMAN: This comes as we're learning new details about the mission from the Green Beret team, what they were doing in details on the terror suspect that they were after.

Our David McKenzie joins us now live from the capital of Niger.

David, what are you learning?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we're learning is that these Green Berets and other special forces were joining Nigerien forces in that border region, which is just a few hours away from where I'm standing on an intelligence gathering mission looking for details about a suspected leader of a terror group which some time ago we believe split away and joined -- loosely joined ISIS and is a major terror threat in this region.

[10:35:20] The leader of that group believed to be behind possible attacks in neighboring Burkina Faso.

So, John, certainly an important to the mission they were on but it still appears to be that they didn't believe that the threat level on that mission was particularly high and that may be a reason, if the investigation leads in that direction, that they got caught unawares with this ambush that left four American soldiers dead -- John.

HARLOW: All right. David McKenzie in Niger, thank you for the reporting. We'll check back in with you.

Ahead today, President Trump will declare the nation's opioid crisis a public health emergency. For millions of Americans, though, that may not go far enough because that's not what the president said frankly he was going to do.

Up next, we will meet a family turning to a promising new treatment.


[10:40:18] BERMAN: In just a few hours President Trump will speak about fighting the nation's growing opioid epidemic. But instead of declaring it a national emergency he will declare it a public health emergency and there is a difference, among other things it means no extra federal funds will be paid in to helping fight the crisis.

HARLOW: That could change. We'll be watching, of course. This as some addicts are now turning to a little known plant called kratom as a treatment.

What is that? Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigates. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PATRICIA SLAVIN, FORMER OPIATE USER: Everything hurts you're sick, you're nauseous, throwing up, diarrhea. Your will to live is gone.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Withdrawal, from opiate drugs. Many will tell you that you continue to use because after a while it's no longer about getting high. It's to chase away the feeling you're about to die.

For Patricia Slevin, it all started four years ago with abdominal pain and a prescription for Dilaudid. It was the first time in her life she had ever taken an opiate.

SLEVIN: They upped the dose and it just kept to the point where I was taking a very high dose of pain meds. I had to get on pain management.

LISA VINSON, FORMER OPIATE USER: Every month they say how are you, and I say, well, it's not really helping as much. I'm still in a lot of pain. OK. We'll add this to it, this pill and then this patch.

GUPTA: Lisa Vinson, Patricia's younger sister, also had abdominal pain. Over the past 10 years she's had five operations including a hysterectomy and yes, she also had lots and lots of narcotics.

VINSON: I was torn between not being able to care for my family or, OK, I can take care of them if I just take some more pills.

GUPTA: Within months two sisters, Lisa and Patricia, were both addicted to opioid painkillers. But things would soon turn even more desperate for Patricia.

SLEVIN: Every time they would give me more my body just get immune to it. If I didn't have it I would get sick, sick, real sick.

GUPTA (on camera): So what did you do?

SLEVIN: There was a guy that I worked with, his wife had Dilaudid but she didn't like them and she didn't take them so he would sell me what she had so that I ran out then I still have some.

GUPTA (voice-over): But one day that same guy didn't have any pills and offered up a cheaper alternative, heroin.

SLEVIN: And the rest, as they say, is history. It just went downhill from there.

VINSON: She called asking for money for more heroin and I told her I will not send you money for drugs. I will not. But I will buy you kratom.

GUPTA: Kratom. Around the world, kratom, an herb, has been used for centuries to help people manage pain, but also for the withdrawal from opium. Lisa knew from personal experience. VINSON: The reason I started taking it was because I didn't want to

withdraw. I had no idea that it was going to help me with the pain like it did.

CHRISTOPHER MCCURDY, MEDICINAL CHEMIST: We definitely believe that this could be a solution to or part of a solution to the opioid crisis that we're currently in.

GUPTA: Christopher McCurdy is a medicinal chemist. He's also one of just a handful of scientists in America studying the Southeast Asia plant.

MCCURDY: I don't see anything that rivals or even comes close to the ability for this plant to serve as a potential treatment.

GUPTA: And yet, in the U.S., it is banned in six states and the DEA considers it a drug of concern over worries of potential addiction and even some reported deaths. According to McCurdy, that concern is because kratom is not regulated and has been mixed with other drugs.

MCCURDY: Definitely there needs to be regulatory measures put into place with this plant material, but there is a huge wealth of anecdotal evidence out there and some scientific that there is definite medical potential for this plant.

GUPTA: For something so promising, you may be wondering why others including big companies haven't investigated it. Part of the problem, it is a plant and that means no one can patent it.

MCCURDY: There is no financial incentive for any drug company to really pursue developing this into a drug.

GUPTA (on camera): How does the future look for you now, you, your family? All your teenage kids that you have.

VINSON: Right. It looks beautiful. I have hope.

GUPTA: How confident are you that you won't go back to heroin?

SLEVIN: Never fully confident. Never fully confident.

GUPTA: Right.

SLEVIN: It's a powerful -- it's a powerful drug, but I think as long as I have kratom, as long as I can get it, me, personally, I'll never go back.


[10:45:12] GUPTA: I think the first question anybody will ask, watching these two sisters, is it too good to be true? Kratom, something as simple as kratom, a natural occurring plant, able to treat heroin addiction and the reality is we don't know because this hasn't been studied thoroughly in the United States.

Lots of data, I mean, hundreds of years worth of usage in other countries, starting to get more attention by the scientific community. But this is always the challenge. If something is deemed not to be beneficial, already outlawed in several states in the United States, how likely is it to actually get studied? That's the big question.

Also it's worth pointing out that many of these supplements simply aren't regulated so if you buy kratom in the store you may not know that you're getting kratom exactly, you may not know the dosage you're getting, you may not know if it's mixed with something else. These are problems that need to be solved.

But if there is a plant out there, an herb, which could make a dent in this opioid crisis, I assure you, John and Poppy, this is something that a lot of people want to know about -- John, Poppy.

HARLOW: They do and this is the first time that I've heard of it.

Sanjay Gupta, thank you for investigating, for the reporting.

The president making a big announcement at 2:00 p.m. Eastern today on the opioid epidemic. We are waiting for that. And?

BERMAN: Right there on the other side of your screen right now, this is a big vote in the House of Representatives. This is a vote to move on with the budget. This is the next step, a key step, on passing tax reform. Watch the Republican nay number. If that gets up to more than 22 they're in trouble. A lot of blue state Democrats concerned about some provisions here but there is a sense that leadership has the votes it needs to move on.

Stick around, much more on this coming up.


[10:51:37] BERMAN: Game two of the World Series made history.

HARLOW: And Andy Scholes is so disappointed in Houston's epic win this morning. He can barely contain himself, right, Andy?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: You know what, guys, I got two hours of sleep, but it was well worth it to stay up to watch that game.


SCHOLES: I mean it was awesome. This "Bleacher Report" for this is by the new 2018 Ford F-150. And like I said, last night's game, one of the best World Series games of all time. The drama from the ninth inning on was just incredible. The Astros tying the game in the ninth inning on a solo homerun by Marwin Gonzalez. Then in the 10th they took the lead after back-to-back homeruns by Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa.

But the Dodgers wouldn't go away. They tied the game in the bottom of the 10th on the single by Kike Hernandez to keep the game going. Then in the 11th, George Springer, the hero for the Astros, hitting a two- run homerun as the Astros get the big win, 7-6, to even the series at a game apiece.


GEORGE SPRINGER, ASTROS OUTFIELDER: That's, you know, an emotional high to emotional low to high to low to high again. It's -- but that's why we play the game and, you know, that's the craziest game I can honestly say I've ever played in and it's only game two.

JUSTIN VERLANDER, ASTROS RIGHT-HAND PITCHER: I mean, the roller coaster of emotion, no. I mean, this is an instant classic and to be able to be part of it is pretty special.


SCHOLES: There were eight homeruns in game two which was a World Series record. This was the first time ever in any postseason game that five homeruns were hit in extra innings. It was a great one.

The fall classic is going to move to Minute Maid Park in Houston for game three. That gets going well after 8:00 Eastern tomorrow night.

We had a great moment before last night's game when legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully took the field. The 89-year-old was scheduled to toss out the ceremonial first pitch and then did this.


VIN SCULLY, FORMER DODGERS BROADCASTER: Oh, wait a minute. Oh, my gosh. I think I hurt my rotator cuff. I am going to have to go to the bull pen. Is there a left-hander down here? Oh, my gosh. Fernando Valenzuela.


SCHOLES: Scully calling in Valenzuela to throw out the first pitch. Valenzuela pitched in the World Series 36 years ago when they beat the Yankees. Scully of course retired from calling games for the Dodgers last season after 67 years in the booth. But as you can see, he still has it and knows how to entertain the crowd.

BERMAN: Interesting, went to the lefty, went for Fernando, rather than Koufax and he did have a choice there being at Dodger Stadium.

Andy, I understand that you're pulling the hardship assignment, you get to go to the World Series game three for you in your hometown in Houston. That's got to be pretty nice.

SCHOLES: Oh, yes. I couldn't be more excited, John, especially after how game two developed and ended because I can tell you what, Minute Maid Park is going to be rocking tomorrow night. They're probably going to have the roof closed and it is going to be loud in there, I'm really excited about it.

I went to the World Series games in 2005 and we got swept by the White Sox so those weren't as fun. Hopefully we get a win some time this weekend at least because games three, four, and five are in Houston. [10:55:02] BERMAN: Astros fans around the world saying don't go,

Andy. You're obviously --


BERMAN: We don't want you there.

All right, Andy Scholes, thanks so much.

SCHOLES: All right.

BERMAN: We do wish you the best of luck tomorrow.

SCHOLES: Thanks, John.

HARLOW: All right. At any minute, thousands of secret -- well, war secret government files in the assassination of President Kennedy will be released to the public for the first time. It has been 25 years since Congress passed a law back in 1992 saying those classified documents had to be made public in 25 years.

What we don't know is whether President Trump will keep any of them secret. He can do that if he feels they threaten national security.

BERMAN: Plus WikiLeaks, President Trump's campaign, an attempt to get Hillary Clinton's 30,000 deleted e-mails. New developments on that next.