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New MLK Tapes Found; Genetic Testing Offers Glimpse into Baby Futures; Resetting your "Super Brain"; Vying for Golden Globe

Aired December 13, 2012 - 08:30   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We begin with John Berman and the latest top stories.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Thanks, Soledad. The latest bid by the Assad regime in Syria to up the ante in the long and violent civil war there. U.S. intelligence confirms that Syria launched four short-range scud missiles from the region around Damascus into northern Syria, presumably targeting rebels trying to overthrow the regime.

Testimony today at a coroner's inquest in London revealed that British nurse Jacintha Saldanha was found hanged by the neck from a scarf at her hospital living quarters. Wrist injuries were also reported. This happened three days after Saldanha was fooled by Australian deejays posing as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charlies in an attempt to reach the hospitalized Duchess of Cambridge. Investigators say Saldanha left behind several suicide notes.

A bit of an embarrassing situation for Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey. Federal immigration officials have arrested an intern who worked for a few months in the Democrat's office. They say a young man is an undocumented immigrant from Peru. They also say he's a registered sex offender and faces deportation. A spokesman says Menendez just did not know this intern.

Plus, audio tapes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. found in a box in a closet. Laura Crosby says the tapes were passed down by her father, a former newspaper reporter.

Listen to this portion where Martin Luther King talks about accusations that he caused the race riots in Detroit in the summer of 1967.


DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: As much as I preach about non-violence, and as much as I talk about love, I don't see how anybody would ever associate me with organizing a riot. .


BERMAN: The family that discovered the tapes is now in the process of preserving them.

So he's been called bombastic and blunt, brutally blunt; now he's simply fascinating. Chris Christie listed as Barbara Walters' ten most fascinating people, the governor of New Jersey of course. They had a full and frank discussion about his weight and what it might mean for his future.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: If I could figure that out, I'd fix it.

BARBARA WALTERS, ABC HOST: Do you try to diet?

CHRISTIE: Oh, Barbara, I've had more diets and lost and gained back more weight in my lifetime than I care to count.

WALTERS: There are people who say that you couldn't be president because you're so heavy. What do you say to this?

CHRISTIE: That's ridiculous. I think people who watched me for the last number of weeks in Hurricane Sandy doing 18-hour days, so I don't really think that will be a problem.


BERMAN: It's been an issue he's had to deal with since his run for governor. Remember he told Jon Corzine why don't you just man up and call me fat? It's followed him ever since.

O'BRIEN: I agree with him. I think who cares? I don't think he's too fat.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Speaking for the big brothers, governor, blow 'em off. Do what you do, bro. Do what you do.

DEEPAK CHOPRA, AUTHOR: Be a heavyweight president.

O'BRIEN: Exactly, see? That's how you spin it.

MARTIN: We got some skinny presidents. My deal is what's your public policy?

O'BRIEN: Just be a good president.

MARTIN: That's the deal.

O'BRIEN: That's what I'd like.

All right. Here's a question, would you want to know your baby's future? Genetic testing could offer parents vital medical information about their children's health, telling them if their kids are pre- disposed to diseases. Also can offer some risks, too: ambiguous results, misinformation, things that don't eventually end up happening anyway. The topic is the subject of "Time" magazine's cover. released today, asking the question, "Want to know my future?" with a little baby on the cover. "Time's" deputy managing editor Nancy Gibbs joins us.

Nice to have you with us. We appreciate it.


O'BRIEN: It's kind of the interesting catch-22, right? Testing can give you information, but is it information you want to know and is it information you can do anything about? And it's this dilemma that really is the focus of this article.

GIBBS: And those really two go together. Obviously most people want to know what they might be at risk of developing if it means better screening treatment, but if it's something for which there is no treatment -- right now doctors can test for about 2, 500 medical conditions but they only can treat about 500 of those. So what do you do with the knowledge about the others?

O'BRIEN: Consequences of having that information and not being able to do anything with it. I mean, you profile in the article a woman who's just -- sounds just like a little bit of a mess, a neurotic mess, as she tries to navigate for her children's health knowing things that she really cannot fix.

GIBBS: Well, like many she started trying to figure out why one of her daughter's development was delayed, her muscles were weak and each round of genetic tests came up inconclusive until the latest round because, of course, this testing has gotten better and better and cheaper and cheaper in the decade since we decoded the human genome. And so now they still were not able to figure out what was causing her daughter's developmental delays, but they did discover that she was at risk of certain kinds of very fast growing tumors, a completely unexpected finding of a risk of cancer, and then of course that leads the mother to get herself tested and find that she, too, is at that risk.

So it's the knowledge you're not looking for and may not be able to cope with that makes this such a confounding problem.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's the eternal debate, right? If someone could tell you when you're going to die, would you like to know that? Would you adjust the way you're living?

But you said it's getting cheaper. Tell me about that. I assume it's not just for babies. As you said, the mother too. So I can go find out my future; what's this going to run me?

GIBBS: So the original decoding of the genome cost $2.7 billion. You can now do a whole genome sequencing for about $7,500, and it's getting cheaper all the time.

CAIN: That's a big markdown.

GIBBS: Even more so, for $99, you can find out your risk for about 200 of the most common medical conditions.

CHOPRA: Here's the thing, and we have a geneticist coming on in the next segment, there are very few genes that are totally penentrent (ph) and predictable, so getting this information is very good, because there are certain risks you have for certain types of cancer, heart disease, et cetera, that you can do certain things about.

O'BRIEN: For the ones that you can't do anything about, as a doctor, let's say you had a piece of paper and you said, oh, I have this information about your newborn baby, but I know there is nothing to do right now. Would you tell me as the mother or would you not tell me, if you did a big genetic test?

CHOPRA: It would be a choice. I don't know.

GIBBS: Right now doctors are typically saying they wouldn't tell you. Patients are saying but we want to know. And so there are companies, I mean, obviously there's a very interesting market here -- there are companies that are making it possible for you almost to, if you get your genetic information decoded, you can store it almost in a lock box where you don't look at it until it's more likely that the knowledge is useful.

O'BRIEN: You could lose your health care.

MARTIN: How do you protect somebody who says, oh, my child might be a special needs child so therefore I'm going to give it up for adoption or let the state take it over? I mean, again, because there are some people who frankly don't want to deal with certain children because they say that's not the kind of child I want to raise.

GIBBS: Or what if you find out your child is at risk of an adult disease that would mean they will never be able to get health insurance, long-term disability insurance, would you rather therefore not have that knowledge and not risk --

CHOPRA: What about choosing to have the baby when you find out very early?

O'BRIEN: Right, exactly.

CAIN: What about if you find your child has a super athlete syndrome and you say, eh, he's not going to study. He's going to be a Tour de France winner.

O'BRIEN: We have raised all the questions, and they're not answerable, but the article is fascinating. Nancy Gibbs, nice to have you with us. That's the cover story in "Time" magazine released today.

Coming up next, we'll dig a little deeper into "Super Brain." Kind of connected, right?


O'BRIEN: I mean, after this we'll talk with a geneticist and Deepak Chopra will stick around and talk with us about his new book as well. Releasing the power of your mind to grow your emotions; your brain can actually be made younger. We'll talk about all that straight ahead.

And the Golden Globe nominations are about to be announced. We'll take you live to L.A. to see who made the list and who did not. That's ahead. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back. We're joined by a prominent neuroscientist, Rudy Tanzi. He's joined us, he's the co-author of this book we've been about this morning, "Super Brain". He wrote it with Deepak Chopra. There we go, take my shot. A picture of the book.

So this is all about the potential of the brain to change, really, and your potential to change along with your brain. Can your brain really grow?

CHOPRA: Yes, I met Rudy in the men's room at (INAUDIBLE).

CAIN: That's a good start to the story.


CHOPRA: And I said, "Rudy, is the brain a verb or a noun? Are our genes verbs or nouns?" What did he say?

RUDOLPH TANZI, PROFESSOR OF NEUROLOGY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: It's all about the verb. It's all -- it's a flow, it's action.

O'BRIEN: Potential, possibility So your brain can grow.

TANZI: Your brain is constantly adapting, so it's rewiring itself, the chemistry is changing, the genetics are changing every moment in response to the world around you and in response to your own mind.

O'BRIEN: So if you want to improve your brain, is it really as simple as read and learn an instrument? That kind of thing that helps you grow your brain?

TANZI: Anytime you do something new, you're making new connections or synapses. And all learning is based on association, so when you learn something new, you strengthen what you already know. And the more synapses you have, the better your brain's going to be off as you age.

MARTIN: But is that through books, through television, through music or is it a combination?

TANZI: Combination as long as it's new. So watching reruns of "Gilligan's Island" won't do it. It'll be fun. Unless there was some part you missed that Skipper said and it was new to you, but it has to be new. You have to learn something new.

O'BRIEN: How about what you eat? How does your diet and your exercise play a role in your brain function? TANZI: Well, exercise in particular causes new nerve cells to actually be born. So many people think you don't get any new nerve cells. Your mom tells you that when you go to the pub. But actually when you exercise, in this region of the brain that gets affected in Alzheimer's disease, you grow new stem cells and exercise has been shown over and over to induce that growth.

O'BRIEN: So it doesn't matter what you eat?

TANZI: No, eating is very important.

CHOPRA: Diabetes, obesity, all have problems.

TANZI: Sure. What's good for the heart is good for the brain.

MARTIN: All that time, for instance, for some reason I've been doing morning radio for years, I have no idea why, but at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 in the morning, I might jump up and start writing stuff and doing stuff, I'm really a late night person. I'm not a morning person. So how does that play a role also in terms of how the brain develops and how you drive and think and stuff?

TANZI: Yes, I mean, different people have different cycles. So writing this book with Deepak, I did all my writing late night, too.

CHOPRA: (INAUDIBLE) deficit, because that's a new finding relatively.

O'BRIEN: Sleep deficit?

TANZI: Yes. When you think about how just to have your brain age nicely -- exercise, stay stimulated intellectually, stay socially engaged, connect with people and sleep. Because it's during the deepest part of sleep, or slow wave sleep, that you consolidate memories. All these little short term memories, like a thumb drive in the computer, you want to get them on the hard drive, you need the deepest form of sleep called slow-wave sleep.

O'BRIEN: I never sleep.

CAIN: You talk about exercise. It's essentially the same theory of many of these modern exercise techniques, like cross fit, P90X, it's about muscle confusion. You're talking about keeping your brain constantly adapting to the newest stimuli, right?

TANZI: Right. You want your -- I mean basically your brain is bringing -- your entire world is coming to you from your brain.

MARTIN: Right.

TANZI: So you get this dark jelly sitting in a silent place, signals coming in, electromagnetic signals go and then suddenly we see a world.

CAIN: And does that suggest outside sleep the structure would be bad for brain growth you need to be constantly in a state of confusion and stimulus? TANZI: You know we talk about that. Novelty, even if it's a little confusing is still good. Just remember to stay in the moment, I'm OK right now and then confusion can be actually helpful.

O'BRIEN: So then how do you -- I think a lot of people, me included, feel controlled by our brain right? I want to eat certain things, I want to do certain things because I'm driven to do those. How do you flip it?

CHOPRA: We actually go through five strategies.

O'BRIEN: Oh well let me find those. What page is that, Deepak?

CHOPRA: Self reflection, self-awareness which has many components. Self awareness is the awareness of your body awareness of your mental space, awareness of your relationships, awareness of what you want in life's reflection, et cetera, but then there's meditation, which has huge impacts on the brain.

O'BRIEN: We talk about that every day practically.

CHOPRA: And then there's conscious choice making, so you're not a bundle of conditioned reflexes that's constantly being triggered by people and circumstance into totally predictable outcomes.

MARTIN: We're talking about those first five years for children, how valuable is that I mean my wife and I raised two of my nieces. And it's amazing I can look at those two compared to their two sisters and just where they are at six and seven is crazy based upon really what was being fed to them.

TANZI: It's hugely important from infancy. So my -- my wife is also a scientist, and we have a little girl, a 4 1/2-year-old. And we decided when she was born --

O'BRIEN: So you've done experiments on those kids.

MARTIN: She's a neuroscientist?

TANZI: Yes she's also a neuroscientist.

MARTIN: Your kid got --

CHOPRA: There's no pressure.

MARTIN: No pressure.

TANZI: But we decided from when she was an infant that every time she cried we would just not get sleep and attend to her and never let her cry. Because that -- the entire foundation of her neuro network is forming when she's an infant and everything later is going to be associated. When you learn new things every day you're associating with a layer of your neuro-network you already have.

MARTIN: You wouldn't let her cry? TANZI: We didn't let her -- because we wanted her -- the foundation of her neural network to be one where the world is a nice place, accepting, there is no rejection.

MARTIN: So you all don't spank your kid.

O'BRIEN: But the world is not like that.

TANZI: Well no and we didn't sleep.

O'BRIEN: Wait a minute so this is fascinating. But the world is not a nice place where everything is kind and good.

TANZI: Her world is.

O'BRIEN: Well but when she entered what is she five, four, five?


O'BRIEN: OK, so when she goes to Pre-K?

TANZI: She's in.

O'BRIEN: She's going to OK, she's in Pre-K she's going to discover that people steal your toys. People knock you over the head with blocks.

TANZI: She is discovering that but her attitude about it is good. She has a positive attitude about it because her basic network says the world is a positive place.

CHOPRA: She's safe because of that, and that creates an entirely different psyche.

TANZI: No fear.

CHOPRA: There are two ways you experience the world, yummy or yucky. And if you're experiencing the yummy, your neural networks are making things like dopamine, serotonin, opiates, oxytocin which enhances self esteem which make you more creative --

O'BRIEN: My parents are kind of like, listen the world is a tough place get over it.


MARTIN: Did you just say yummy or yucky?


MARTIN: Some grown people at work are going you know what that's really yummy.

O'BRIEN: That's a very highly technical word, the yummy and yucky.

(CROSSTALK) TANZI: You have a yummy brain.

O'BRIEN: It's called "Unleashing the Explosive Power of your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness and Spiritual Well Being." Mr. Tanzi and Mr. Chopra, nice to have you gentlemen with us this morning.

CHOPRA: Thank you.

TANZI: Thank you.

MARTIN: It's a yummy book.

O'BRIEN: A yummy book.

Ahead on STARTING POINT Golden Globe nominations just announced, we'll take you live to LA and tell you who was made -- who made the list and who was left off the list, that's straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: So awards season is heating up in Hollywood. Golden Globe nominations, you're cheering it over there John Berman.

BERMAN: I love the Golden Globes.

O'BRIEN: You do, well, they were just announced. It's your lucky day. Nischelle Turner --


BERMAN: Tell me. Tell me.

O'BRIEN: Hang on, Nischelle Turner has some of the big contenders for us.

So John Berman is absolutely literally sitting on the edge of his chair. Tell him who is the big winner in the nomination?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: I know. John, I am here for you. Yes, I'm definitely here for you guys this morning -- Soledad and John. Now we've got a lot of star power at the 70th Annual Golden Globes this year. The nominations are just in, I'm going to get right to them for you guys, the big categories.

First of all best -- Best Motion Picture, Drama, because they come in two categories, drama and comedy for the Golden Globes. On the drama side, "Argo" is nominated, "Django Unchained", "Life of Pi", "Lincoln" and "Zero Dark Thirty". All of the directors in that category nominated for Best Director as well.

On the comedy side, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel". I'm going to be saying that all award season, it's such a long title. "Les Miserables", "Moonrise Kingdom", "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" and "Silver Linings Playbook."

Now for the actors on the drama side, we've got Daniel Day Lewis for "Lincoln", no surprise there; Richard Gere for "Arbitrage". Not big a surprise there, He definitely has been buzzed about this awards season. John Hawkes for "The Session", Joaquin Phoenix for "The Master". And you know, he was not nominated for a SAG Award yesterday, so he did make up for it this morning at the Golden Globes. And also Denzel Washington for "Flight."

On the actor, comedy side, Jack Black for "Bernie"; he was buzzed about his performance. Everybody loved it so it's not a big surprise there, although "Bernie" was a small movie. Bradley Cooper for "Silver Linings Playbook", Hugh Jackman for "Les Miserables", Ewan McGregor for "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" and Bill Murray for "Hyde Park on the Hudson".

And also in the actress comedy, actress, category for comedy, Emily Blunt for "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen", Judy Dench for "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", Jennifer Lawrence for "Silver Linings Playbook", Maggie Smith for "Quartet", Meryl Streep for "Hope Springs".

And the actress on the drama, Jessica Chastain for "Zero Dark Thirty", Marion Cotillard for "Rust and Bone", Helen Mirren or "Hitchcock", Naomi Watts for "The Impossible" and Rachel Weisz for "Deep Blue Sea". Now that's a mouthful.

But there are some people that may have been left of the list. No Alfred Hitchcock or excuse me no Anthony Hopkins for "Hitchcock", although Helen Mirren was nominated. Also no Keira Knightley for Anna Karenina.

Now Soledad and John, lots of girl power this year at the Golden Globes. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are hosting the ceremony. Yes and they were both nominated in their respective categories.


TURNER: Also the Cecile B. De Mille Award will be given -- will be given to Jodie Foster. You guys are doing too much back there this morning.

O'BRIEN: We don't make it easy for you, Nischelle, do we? We just do not. We do not help you. Thank you for highlighting some of the folks who have been tapped. We'll obviously have to wait see who the winners are.

MARTIN: No way in the world, Kelsey Grammer should have been nominated for "Balls".

O'BRIEN: Oh, you're mad already?

MARTIN: That show was -- I'm sorry, that show was "Straight Balls".

BERMAN: Outrage.

MARTIN: I'm telling you. I'm telling you that show was hot.

O'BRIEN: Nischelle takes -- 10 seconds after Nischelle wraps up her report like outrage to report -- Roland Martin. MARTIN: That's right. Kelsey Grammer should have been nominated.

O'BRIEN: We have to take a break. "End Point" is up next. Nischelle, thank you for that update. Back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: "End Point" this morning. Deepak Chopra will start us off.

CHOPRA: I think it was a reflective show, should cause new neural networks in all those people who are watching us.

O'BRIEN: And think about "Super Brain", your new book. Thank you for talking with us as well. Nice to have you on our panel. Will Cain?

CAIN: It was a constant theme, I think, running through all of our segments. We are talking about innovation, or how we engage politically. And that is what -- you bubble up things from the bottom up, whether it comes from us or whether or not it's directed from the top. That's the overarching theme that needs to be explored in a little bit deeper angle.

MARTIN: Deepak gave us the words for the day. If your boss is driving you crazy, simply say you're being treated yucky today. And after treating you well say you're being really yummy today. So Deepak we appreciate that. Yucky and Yummy.

O'BRIEN: All I'm going to get on Twitter is questions about letting your kid cry. Everyone wants to know. I don't know how I feel about that.

MARTIN: That's yucky.

O'BRIEN: I used to just have a glass of wine and kind of ignore it, but clearly I'm not Deepak Chopra and I'm just a bad parent with that.

Nice to have you with us guys. We appreciate it.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Don Lemon begins right now. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning.

Hey Don good morning.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It's just 9:00 and you're talking about drinking already. My goodness.

O'BRIEN: I didn't say in the morning but yes. Technically yes.

LEMON: It's 5:00 somewhere. Thank you guys. Have a great weekend.