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CNN 10 - March 20, 2018

CNN 10

A Controversial Leader`s Drive in Syria; A Possible Serial Bomber in Texas; Opioid Abuse in America; the History of a Futuristic Ice Cream

Aired March 20, 2018 - 04:00 ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: I`m Carl Azuz for CNN, your source for objective explanation of the day`s news. Thanks for spending part of your Tuesday with us.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad recently spent part of his day driving through a suburb of Damascus on a Honda Civic. Why is this making international news?

The part of the Syrian capital he appeared to drive through is a war-torn section called Eastern Ghouta. You might remember us reporting on this.

It was an area held by rebels who are fighting the Syrian government. It`s been under a government siege for six years and Syrian forces launched an all-out assault on eastern Ghouta, several weeks ago.

So, President Assad`s drive through the area, when he negotiates traffic and passes taxis and pedestrians, without appearing to get noticed is apparently his way of showing his military`s fight here has been successful.

The battle was incredibly destructive. After it started, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously for a ceasefire. Both the government and the rebels ignored that almost immediately. The U.N. says that 400,000 civilians in eastern Ghouta suffered through the onslaught.

It looks like it`s nearing an end. Observers expect the government to eventually defeat the rebels there and take over the entire area in the days ahead. But no one knows when or if the scars of war will heal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bashar al-Assad is at the wheel.

We`re going to the Ghouta to see the situation, he says, driving through what appears to be normal traffic, without an apparent security escort on his way to the eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus.

Under siege for years, for a month, the scene of the government offensive to crush this rebel-held pocket. According to the United Nations, more than a thousand civilians have been killed, tens of thousands have fled the government-held areas.

God willing, anything that can be liberated without fighting is best, he says. Let`s not forget there are civilians and we must preserve their lives.

It`s a surreal work of propaganda. The Syrian every man on a day trip to the ruins of his realm.

His bodyguards reappear when he meets people who greet him with kisses and chants.

With our souls and blood, we sacrifice ourselves for you, Bashar.

In seven years, nearly half a million Syrians have been sacrificed in a war far from over.

Many killed by a government that has showered its opponents with barrel bombs and in the eastern Ghouta in 2013, chemical weapons.

Meeting with commanders, he gives instruction to avoid civilian casualties, because he says -- maybe the terrorists are hiding behind the civilians.

The Syrian government has always framed its fight against the armed opposition as an existential struggle between order and chaos.

The battle is bigger than Syria, al-Assad tells the troops. You`re waging a battle for the world, every bullet you fire to kill a terrorist, you`re changing the world order.

And while the Syrian president basked on the cheers of his troops, Sunday, the bloodshed carried on. According to the Syrian-American Medical Society, during Assad`s day out, government forces subjected the Ghouta to intense bombardment, killing 28 people, including four children and five women.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: Police in Austin, the capital of Texas, are telling people to call them if they see anything suspicious and they`re offering a reward of $115,000. It`s because they think a serial bomber may be on a loose.

For the fourth time this month, an explosive device has gone off in the city. The previous three explosions came from packages left on people`s doorsteps. But what happened Sunday night involved the device that was placed on the side of the road and triggered by a tripwire when two men walked by. They were hurt but they`re expected to recover. Two of the victims from the other bombings died.

Police say the tripwire bomb was more sophisticated than the others, indicating the bomber might have some sort of explosives training. The bombs were placed or sent to different parts of the city and as you`d expect, residents across Austin are on edge. Even a bomb threat made on Saturday caused the cancellation of a concert at the South by Southwest Music Festival. In that case, officers didn`t find any explosives, but because of the other ones, police say people need to avoid anything that looks out of place, and they`re asking for those who have security camera footage to contact police immediately.

U.S. President Donald Trump is introducing a new plan to take on America`s opioid epidemic. U.S. health officials say 64,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2016, mostly from opioids, which include painkillers and heroin. The White House says it wants to improve federal funding for drug treatment programs and it`s launching a new advertising campaign to discourage young Americans from trying drugs.

While the Trump administration says it would support reducing penalties for lower level drug crimes, it wants harsher punishments, possibly including the death penalty for the worse sellers and distributors of illegal drugs. The president says some drug dealers kill thousands of people during their lifetimes and have weak jail sentences.

But some critics don`t agree with the death penalty proposal. One university professor who studied the crisis says, quote, we can`t execute our way out of this epidemic, while another says the death penalty alone probably won`t help, the more severe punishments for drug traffickers could be combined with treatments to effectively tackle the problem.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Every 19 minutes, someone dies from an accidental drug overdose. Most of the time, it`s from prescription drugs like Oxycodone or hydrocodone. These drugs all belong to a family of drugs called opioids.

SUBTITLE: Why are opioids so addictive?

GUPTA: They are prescribed to dull pain. But they also boost dopamine, giving some people a high. They can also slow down your breathing and are highly addictive.

So, why is it so easy to get hooked?

Well, for one, our body can build up a tolerance. So, the more you use, the larger dose you need to get the same effect.

Secondly, you can become dependent on them. In fact, your body creates natural opioids that are released when you`re hooked yourself. But if you habitually use painkillers, your body stops producing its own, and relies on the drugs instead. If you try and stop then, the body goes through withdrawal.

Consider this: in 2012, there were 259 million prescriptions written for opioid painkillers, nearly enough for every American adult and child to have their own bottle of pills. Look, we need to treat pain, but we also don`t need to treat everything with the pill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: Our last story today has to do with cryogenics, a branch of physics focused on extremely low temperatures. That kind of science was needed to make a type of ice cream that can`t be stored in grocery store, freezers or the one you have at home and it sure can`t be stored into existence like home-made ice cream. It needs to be frozen quickly at minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REPORTER: You probably recognize these ice-cream pellets as the ice cream of the future. They`re Dippin` Dots, a summertime staple.

But this confectionery treat didn`t start as -- well, ice cream. It started as cow feed.

SUBTITLE: Moooove over ice cream.

REPORTER: Dippin` Dots were invented in the `80s not by an ice cream brand but by a microbiologist.

Curtis Jones (ph) specialized in cryogenics. In 1987, he was working for a biotech company in Kentucky trying to figure out how to make food for farm animals more efficient. His big breakthrough came when he flash froze cattle feed 350 degrees below zero, which produce small pellets.

Serendipitously, Curtis loved making ice cream. Next thing he knew, he was using liquid nitrogen to freeze ice cream at extremely low temperatures and ended up with small beads of it. When eaten, the natural heat of the mouth melted the beads and thus Dippin` Dots was born.

A year later, he formed the company out of his parents` garage in Illinois.

But there was a problem: Curtis had nowhere to sell the product. Dippin` Dots need to be stored at such a cold temperature that it made it impossible for grocery stores to house the tasty treat. So, he got creative and marketed his product to alternate locations. Now, they`re sold at amusement parks, festivals, zoos and other summertime destinations.

But whether or not they really are the ice cream of the future, we`ll just have to wait and see.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: Maybe I scream and you scream for ice cream, but does this mean Dippin` Dots are cryogenetically modified. Someone ought to serve up the cold hard truth on that because after dinner, it`s a good idea to dot your ice creams and cross your t-serts.

I`m Carl I-zuz and CNN 10 is dipping out.

END