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Weight-Loss Drugs May Help Curb Addictions; Churchill Downs Announces New Safety Measures; Austin: Incident with China Could "Spiral Out of Control" Due to Lack of Communication; U.S. To Establish Presence in Arctic Circle; Amazon to Pay $30M+ to Settle FTC Privacy Complaints. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 01, 2023 - 14:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: From losing weight to curbing all sorts of addictions. New research is aiming to see if the popular weight-loss drug, Ozempic, can help patients cut down on addictive behaviors.

This comes as more and more people taking weight-loss medications look at a sudden loss of interest in smoking and drinking.

CNN's medical correspondent, Meg Tirrell, joins us now from New York.

Meg, you read some descriptions of the drug and what people are finding. They say it is revolutionary. It may have a whole host of applications. I wondered, have doctors pinpointed what is behind this?

MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Scientists say these drugs were not just in the body but also in the brain. That might be how they were to help curb hunger but also potentially for other addictive behaviors, like drinking and smoking.

We spoke with one patient taking Ozempic to lose weight. She said it had an effect on using vape pens. Here's how she described what it feels like.


CHERI FERGUSON, SAYS OZEMPIC HELPED HER STOP VAPING: It is like someone has just come along and switched the light on. You can see the room for what it is. All of these vapes and cigarettes you've had over the years, they don't look attractive anymore. It is very strange, very strange.

The weight that it takes off your mind is far greater than any pounds that can come off your body.


TIRRELL: Scientists studying this say these drugs may work in the brain by essentially making things like alcohol less rewarding. Those behaviors lose their appeal -- Jim?

SCIUTTO: Wow. That would be remarkable.

I assume there are larger studies underway now to establish that this is for real, not just anecdotal.

TIRRELL: Yes, there are some, but not as many as you might think, given the size of the problem. We reached out to drugmakers which that make these kinds of drugs. They said currently they do not have any clinical trials going on for these medicines on addiction.

When you look at the size of the problem, for alcohol use disorder, for example, almost 30 million Americans have alcohol use disorder, and only 5 percent get treatment for it. There is a huge need here.

But we are not seeing pharmaceutical companies, right now at least, test these medicines in this space.

SCIUTTO: That's surprising. Let's hope they get around to it.

Meg Tirrell, in New York, thanks so much.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Well, the U.S. will be setting up a diplomatic presence in the Arctic Circle. How tensions with China and Russia played a role in all this. We'll have more on that.


Plus, Churchill Downs is announcing new safety initiatives after a series of racehorse deaths. We'll have that update next on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.



KEILAR: Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby, is announcing changes to its racetrack after a disturbing rash of horse deaths. Churchill Downs says they will continue to hold races but there will be new safety measures in place.

Nick Watt has been following the investigation closely.

Nick, tell us about the proposed changes.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, 12 dead horses within about a month. That is why we are here.

The headline is racing will go on at Churchill Downs. PETA had asked for a suspension in racing while the investigation into those deaths was carried out. That has not happened. Racing goes on.

Here's what changes. Starts, each horse will be limited to four starts within an eight-week rolling period. Critics of horseracing say horseracing but an unnatural strain on a horse. They're running at unnatural speeds in an unnatural pack. That puts unnatural strain on the young bodies.

The next thing, payment incentives. They will pause start bonuses for trainers. The purse will only be split between the top-five forces.

The reason is obviously that if a trainer has a horse that might have a little niggle, there will not be such an incentive to race that horse anyway because they won't get any money for it.

Also, if a horse is beaten by 12 or more links in five consecutive races, that horse will not be allowed to race until it has been checked over by a vet to make sure the reason for the bad performance is not that it is injured, which could lead to death.

Now 12 dead horses, critics of horseracing say that is really nothing out of the ordinary at Churchill Downs, that 25 die on average every year.

This is all being done under the auspices of the new body called the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Authority. A national body now overseeing the sport nationwide because of problems in the sport.


Now a lot of this was kicked off after a rash of horse deaths out here in California at Santa Anita in 2019. Santa Anita did something similar to what Churchill Downs is doing now. They brought in new safety measures. Horse deaths at Santa Anita are down. But horses are still dying at Santa Anita

Critics of horseracing say, whatever you do, whatever measures you take, as long as you are racing horses, horses are going to die. The critics say that is unacceptable.

On the other side of this, you have Churchill Downs and other organizations from within the sport, trying to save their sport by making it safer to save the horses, which I think everybody is trying to do.

But also to save the image of horseracing, so that it can continue. It is in trouble -- Brianna?

KEILAR: That image is suffering. Those numbers are staggering.

Nick Watt, live for us, thank you so much.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Now to some of the other headlines we are watching this hour.

"That 70s Show" star, Danny Masterson, has been convicted on two counts of rape. Jurors in Los Angeles could not reach a verdict on that third count. Masterson was being re-tried for assaults that happened at his California home between 2001 and 2003 after jurors deadlocked in the first trial last year.

He was taken into custody following Wednesday's verdict and now faces 30 years to life in prison at a sentencing set for August.

Also in a blow to unions, the Supreme Court is allowing a cement mixing company to sue a labor union in state court for property damage caused by striking workers.

The union argued the case should be handled by an independent federal agency that investigates allegations of wrongdoing.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote for the majority, while Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was the lone dissenter. She wrote that "The majority opinion risks erosion of the right to strike."

And the Biden administration is sanctioning several Iranian officials they claimed plotted assassinations against U.S. government officers, including former national security adviser, John Bolton, and former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

The targeted group is part of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has also been accused of targeting journalists and Israeli nationalists.


SCIUTTO: We have been watching closely as the relationship between the U.S. and China has grown more tense. Secretary of Defense Austin believes that a lack of communication between the two countries could be part of the problem.

Have a listen.


GEN. LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: You heard me talk a number of times about the importance of countries, with significant capabilities being able to talk to each other, so you can manage crises and prevent things from spiraling out of control unnecessarily.


SCIUTTO: Amid the tensions not just China but also Russia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the United States will establish a diplomatic presence above the Arctic Circle. The new post at the top of Norway, as you see there.

CNN's Kylie Atwood joins us from the State Department.

Kylie, there's has been a lot of talk for some time about a new great game in the Arctic, in part, because of the warming waters. You have seaways open that were not there before. You have Russia and China playing in that space as well. Is that the message that the U.S. is sending with this, that the U.S. is present in this part of the world?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That is a large part of it, Jim. We really don't know the details surrounding what the secretary of state called an American presence post. It seems like it will be some sort of diplomatic post.

It will be more than 1000 miles north of the current U.S. embassy in Norway in Oslo. As you said, it will be above the Arctic Circle.

What the secretary of state said is, currently, there is some cooperation up there. There is peace up there.

But the U.S. has been watching this space. Because it is critical for Russia in terms of oil and gas, but also in terms of its military buildup.

CNN reported on satellite images over the last year or so showing just how much Russia has built up its military presence in the Arctic.

The other "X" factor here, as you said, is China. China has been cooperating with Russia, increasingly, in the Arctic.

As U.S. officials have watched that partnership grow, obviously, there is a desire to make sure that the United States has more of a presence on the ground there.

Clearly, that is part of the effort behind setting up this new diplomatic post, that we will continue to watch this evolve over the course of the coming years.

It also comes as there is tension, as you were saying, between the U.S. and China. Most of that, of course, focused in the South China Sea.

But now that we have this increasing China-Russia cooperation in the Arctic, of course, U.S. officials are hoping there isn't that sort of dynamic that starts playing out in that area of the world as well -- Jim?


SCIUTTO: Yes, a lot of submarine activities by all three countries up there as well.

Kylie Atwood, at the State Department, thank you very much.


KEILAR: A huge settlement. Amazon agreeing to pay more than $30 million over violating privacy rights. Who will get the money? What you can do to make sure that your privacy is protected. Next on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KEILAR: Tech giant, Amazon, has now agreed to pay more than $30 million to settle claims that its devices violated the privacy of customers.


The two federal lawsuits brought by the FTC involve Alexa voice assistant and ring doorbell cameras. These are used in millions of homes, very likely one of yours.

CNN's Brian Fung is joining us now with more on this.

Brian, Amazon dominates the smart speaker market. Explain the concerns here. What kind of privacy rights we're talking about that are being violated?

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECH REPORTER: Yes, Brianna, let's start with ring. According to the FTC, ring fails to protect your privacy by basically allowing employees of the company to -- and hackers, outside hackers to spy on ring users.

So when you had a camera set up in your bedroom or your bathroom, conceivably that could allow hackers to watch and view the recordings of people shown on the cameras. That was what the FTC said was an unfair and deceptive practice.

And now with the Amazon Alexa issue, you had what the FTC said was a violation of children's privacy.

Where Amazon was allegedly holding onto voice recordings of children that it had collected through the Alexa app and its smart speakers in violation of a national law that prevents children's data from being collected from users under 13 without parental consent.

And so what's happening now is Amazon is settling this -- these two lawsuits for more than $30 million. It's going to pay $5.8 million to settle the ring lawsuit and $25 million to settle the Alexa lawsuit.

Now, it's important to point out that there are also a number of behavioral changes that the FTC is imposing here.

One, Amazon won't be able to use some of these voice recordings to train it's A.I. algorithms. And two, it's going to have to implement a privacy program for all of these services.

KEILAR: I mean, 30 million, that sounds like a lot, but it's really not that much. I wonder if Alexa and ring users are going to see any of that money.

FUNG: I asked the FTC about this and they said ring users, as part of that settlement, will see some consumer redress and some refunds there. But the $25 million associated with the Alexa settlement, that money is going to go straight to the U.S. Treasury.

KEILAR: We also have to think about what we can do as consumers to protect ourselves. The first thing that I thought of when you said these cameras that were in bathrooms or bedrooms, maybe don't have one in your bathroom.

But talk to us about the things you can do as a consumer to protect ourselves.

FUNG: Specific to these apps, Amazon allows you to delete these recordings from Amazon Alexa in its settings. So if you're concerned about your privacy, you might want to consider doing that.

For ring, you can establish two-factor authentications for your accounts, same as your Amazon account that you might use to log in for your e-commerce.

These tips really apply to all sorts of platforms, whether it's Amazon, Google, Facebook or what have you.

Two-factor authentication, making sure you have long, complex passwords, ideally tracked using a password manager so you don't have to remember each individual password.

And make sure each password for each different service is different so if one is compromised, your entire digital life isn't overturned.

KEILAR: Vary the passwords, long passwords, password manager. I am on it, Brian Fung.

Thank you so much for that.


SANCHEZ: Twitter, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is back on top as the world's richest person. According to Bloomberg's math, his net worth is now $192 billion.

Musk edging out Bernard Arno with $187 billion. He's still ahead of Jeff Bezos by nearly $50 billion by the way.

But the question is, will he stay at the top spot? According to a monthly report from Fidelity, Twitter may only be worth a third of the $44 billion that Musk shelled out for it back in October.


SCIUTTO: For the first time as president, Joe Biden gave the graduation speech to the U.S. Air Force Academy's class of 2023. He spoke of the U.S. and the West's support for Ukraine, U.S. disagreements with China.

He also complimented the Air Force cadets, saying the class of 2023 has the highest percentage of female graduates in Air Force history.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So it's on all of you to root out the scourge of sexual assault and harassment in the military. Never tolerate it among -- to never tolerate it.

To make sure that every member of our forces, no matter who they are, who they love, feels safe and respected in the ranks.

Class of 2023 --


BIDEN: -- you've been trained to lead, to set an example.


SCIUTTO: Trained to lead. The Air Force says Biden is the ninth sitting president to speak at its graduation. That includes the last six consecutive commanders-in-chief, from Donald Trump going back to Ronald Reagan.


Brianna, the president just chose an Air Force general as his new chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

KEILAR: Yes, he sure did.

Major retailers like Costco say their shoppers are pulling back. What this might tell us about the state of the U.S. economy, next on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.



SCIUTTO: They are staying until it's done. Right now, the Senate going through the final motions to pass that debt ceiling bill intended to avoid default. We are told a vote could happen as soon as this evening and we're on it.