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Women and Ambien; Hunting Pythons in Florida; Details of a Texas Shooting; Examining he Nation's Budget, or Lack Thereof; Australian Weather Phenomenon; Educating People about Neuroscience

Aired January 11, 2013 - 15:30   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Bottom of the hour. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

If you take a pill to get a good night's sleep, check with your doctor. There is important new information today about the most popular sleep medicines. The Food and Drug Administration says women should be taking half as much Ambien and other pills containing the same ingredient.

The recommendation follows years of complaints of people still being drowsy the morning after they take these sleeping pills. The FDA says it has about 700 reports of impaired driving in people who have taken this drug. And there are a number of reports of people driving and eating and texting, even having sex without remembering it.


Dr. Carol Ash, director of sleep medicine with Meridian Health.

Dr. Ash, that's a lot of things not to remember because of this pill. Have you seen this yourself?

DR. CAROL ASH, MERIDIAN HEALTH: Yes, Brooke. It sure is.

And, unfortunately, there's 60 million prescriptions written a year for sleeping pills, 40 million of which are for zolpidem, which is a drug that the FDA has put these recommendations out about.

And, you know, at Meridian Health, where I'm at, we have long known about this and most sleep doctors have been reducing the dosages so this is just proving to us what we already knew, that water is wet. It is a problem.

BALDWIN: So it is zolpidem. This is the active ingredient in theses pills that is doing this. Why does it apparently cause these kinds of reactions in people?

ASH: Yes.

Well, we're not exactly sure why we're seeing this delayed response. We're looking at, you know, particularly in women, their body mass size is smaller, and also female metabolism is different. So we're seeing a greater response in women than men. But this is a long known side effect of many of the sleeping pills, the sedative hypnotics. They will -- they're sedating you and they are altering your ability to respond. So they impair critical thinking. And they're going to impair your ability to drive. And as you're suggesting, zolpidem has been long known to cause these bizarre behaviors.

BALDWIN: So when we talk about impairment to drive, we're talking about if you pop an Ambien the night before and you're driving the next morning, it affects your driving hours later?

ASH: Yes, unfortunately.


ASH: And you may not even have an awareness of it. So, you might appear to be fully awake and think you're fully awake, but parts of your brain are not actually engaged in the driving process.

And, you know, it is a problem, so people will go out on the road and they'll drive and they'll get in these accidents and it's because of a consequence of the drugs and the drugs still being in their system when they get up in the morning and they get on the road.

BALDWIN: So, then, doctor, what are people supposed to do. There are a lot of people out there who have a tough time sleeping. They need a little help. What's the solution?

ASH: They do. You know, Brooke, people are desperate for sleep, but there are solutions for this.

Unfortunately, we have two problems. Society doesn't recognize what they need to be doing and how important sleep is. Lifestyle, what we do, you know, we push the envelope. We think sleep is for wimps, so we can do all these crazy things.

We need to get better sleep habits, number one. You know, keeping a regular bed time, and keeping the environment for sleep conducive to sleep, but in addition to that, doctors are getting very little education on sleep and they're not addressing the sleep the way they need to.

And, so, unfortunately when patients come to see physicians, what happens is they'll dispense these sleeping pills and never get at the root cause. So, if you get at the root cause, you can help a patient solve these problems and sleeping pills were never meant to be used for more than four to six weeks.

After four to six weeks, you really want to be transitioning off the pills and using other modalities to help you sleep.

BALDWIN: It's scary. That's scary to think of the things you can forget if you take this pill.

ASH: It really is.

BALDWIN: And so many people take it.

Dr. Carol Ash, thank you so much.

ASH: Thank you for having me, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Hundreds of amateur snake hunters from all over the world are heading to the Florida Everglades. They have machetes. They have guns. This is the first competition of its kind. Folks, it's a python hunt.

For one month here, this is a contest, starting tomorrow. It's drawn in 500 people, more than a thousand bucks up for grabs for the person who catches the most pythons, or the longest python.

John Zarrella, who is often on the space beat and, apparently the python beat as well. Let me just say, I never say never, I am never doing a python story, John Zarrella. But you, my friend, are. What's up with all the pythons in Florida?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I can't believe you called me an amateur after all the pythons I've hunted in Florida over past few years.

BALDWIN: You, my friend, are no amateur.

ZARRELLA: You know, and I was going to say, Brooke, here's a list here of all the people that have signed up, some from Georgia, some from New Mexico, Ohio.

There's people from just about everywhere around the country who are coming down here among those 500 people who have signed up. And I know your name is not on the list.

BALDWIN: Negative.

ZARRELLA: But, first of all, let's let the viewers know a couple of things. Pythons are an invasive species. They have been ruining the Everglades for probably a decade now.

Nobody is quite sure exactly how they got out there. There's some speculation that during Hurricane Andrew that a lot of snake places actually were destroyed during Andrew and all of those breeding areas. The snakes got into the Everglades.

Another way they're getting there, people who had them as pets and when they got too big -- they can get to be 17-, 18-, 19-feet-long ...

BALDWIN: Why do you want that as a pet?

ZARRELLA: Yeah, why do you? And they couldn't handle them, so they put them in the Everglades and the pythons love the Everglades, have no natural predator, only perhaps the alligators and the alligators haven't been too successful.

So, anyway, tomorrow, the python hunt starts, the contest. It's a month long and, you know, this is not a fishing tournament. You're not coming in with stringers of fish. I've been on these before. And in the last big one they had a few years ago, no one caught a single python in a month.


ZARRELLA: They're not that easy to spot. You've got to hope for cool weather when they like to come out and sun themselves in the warm afternoon on the roadways.

We've had such warm weather down here, Brooke, that the chances of them even being out where you're going to see them is slim to none.

So, it is definitely a challenge to find these pythons for these people that are hunting them, but we're going to go out there with them tomorrow ...

BALDWIN: I know you will. Hang on.

ZARRELLA: ... and see if we can get some. Yeah?

BALDWIN: Let me get this in because this is what PETA said. We need PETA's side of things.

"When pythons are beheaded, they can suffer up to an hour before they actually die. PETA asks hunters to limit the ways pythons can be killed to where the brain is destroyed immediately."

That's what PETA says.


BALDWIN: John Zarrella, you have fun with those pythons this weekend. Ad we'll watch from afar. OK?

ZARRELLA: You got it.

BALDWIN: Thanks, John. Appreciate it.

Still ahead, a strange weather event in Australia turning heads worldwide. Look at these pictures. What is this? What is behind the wall of red here?

Also, the lawyer for a graffiti artist accused of vandalizing a Picasso painting says this case is her worst nightmare. You got to hear this.


BALDWIN: "On the Case" today, a romance that started in high school ends with gunfire in a parking garage in Dallas, Texas. Forty-one- year-old Ferdinand Smith is in jail today. He's charged with murdering his estranged wife.

Police say Smith shot Karen Cox-Smith several times Tuesday as she was walking out of work at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Ferdinand Smith and Karen Cox were high school sweethearts, but apparently they had a long history of domestic violence. Criminal defense attorney Drew Findling, back with me today "On the Case," and so, from what I understand, reportedly there was an existing felony warrant out for this guy, domestic violence assault charges.

So, why was he even on the streets and this close to her?

DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, we see this in domestic abuse cases. Those of us that do these cases we think of what's called the cycle of abuse. We see the contrite stage, the loving stage, the tension and then the explosion.

And what happens is usually the victim, when things are going well, and the person is contrite and seeking forgiveness, they forget the ability to quickly transition to explosion and, unfortunately, that's what happens here.

And the longer the relationship sustains, they get through that tension stage pretty quickly and they move through that contrite stage pretty quickly and it ends up pretty violent like it did here.

BALDWIN: As we mentioned, when you look at these court documents, this couple had a long history of domestic violence.

You've dealt with domestic violence cases. I mean, what advice do you give people who find themselves in these situations? How do you protect yourself?

FINDLING: Well, I see it no different than somebody that is an alcoholic or drug addict, that goes to N.A. or A.A. And, when you go to support groups, there's somebody to reach out to you if you feel tempted to pick up a drink or reach for a drug.

When somebody goes for domestic abuse counseling to a group-type setting, then if they feel the temptation to reach out to that spouse or that former mate, call somebody and say, hey, I'm thinking of doing this, so somebody can tell you not to do it.

BALDWIN: What about a potential victim? You just walk around in fear and hope no one comes to find you?

FINDLING: Well, I think we have to look at the system, Brooke. You know, I've been involved in these cases for well over 20 years. And what started out as temporary protective orders and restraining orders, looking to protect spouses and boyfriends and girlfriends, has really grown out of control.

I've been to court for domestic violence calendars, seeing two guys at a gym that are fighting. I've seen cousins that are using it and I think that the system has gotten so inundated that we have gotten away from the true victims and the true perpetrators.

BALDWIN: Let me move to the next case. You Picasso fan?

FINDLING: Sure, of course. BALDWIN: I am a Picasso fan as well, so pay attention to this one because this Houston graffiti artist accused of defacing a Picasso painting at a Houston museum has turned himself in after months and months on the run.

Remember this cell phone video here? Look at this. This was posted on YouTube. Here someone is spray painting a bowl and the word "conquista" on the painting last June.

Now, the artist later posted videos online, allegedly confessing, explaining why he did it.

Drew, the lawyer here in this case, I want to quote him, calls this case "a criminal defense attorney's worst nightmare." How do you defend this?

FINDLING: Well ...

BALDWIN: On video.

FINDLING: And it's a nightmare for the following reason. It's not like you're going to get what is called jury nullification where juries are going to ignore the facts because they really feel for this person, maybe like a battered woman that kills her husband and the jury feels bad for her.

No one is lining up in the streets of Tijuana or Acapulco, cheering this guy on for his cause, let alone in Texas, so he's all by himself.

I think what the attorney is thinking of, because he said we may have to go to trial and I want to explain this, is that in Texas, it's a unique state in that in noncapital cases like this, you can elect to have jury sentencing.

And I think he's hoping -- he knows there will be a guilty verdict -- to get to a jury and say, look, the guy is kind of messed up in the head here a little bit, but please don't send him to jail for 10 years.

BALDWIN: Go nice on him.

FINDLING: Go nice on him.

BALDWIN: Sorry about the painting, but go nice on him.

Drew Findling, thank you.

FINDLING: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Have a good weekend.

Coming up next, Ali Velshi goes off on Washington as the political bickering wreaks havoc on business and jobs. Stay right here.


ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: From New York, I'm Ali Velshi. This is "Your Money."

Fiscal cliff, debt ceilings, what these partisan debates underscore is a broken budget process in Washington.

And Dreamliner nightmares invite government scrutiny at Boeing.

But, first, it is very clear since the fiscal cliff debacle that Uncle Sam's biggest issue is his wallet. It's been years since your federal government had a real budget. There have been some political stunts to make it seem like budgets were failing in Congress, bills that were put forward for up-or-down vote, but that is not how it works.

There's never been a budget passed that way and there probably never will be because that's not how the system is designed.

Christine Romans joins me now from the CNNMoney Newsroom. Christine, cut through the misinformation out there, set us straight. If the government was working properly, how would we get a budget?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It is a complex process and it starts with the president.

By law, the commander-in-chief is the one who's required to submit a budget proposal to Congress before the first Monday in February, Ali. Since the Constitution grants the power of the purse, though, to Congress, final budget decisions are really up to it.

So, let's talk about that. Once the proposal gets to Congress, budget committees in the House and Senate work with public officials and other congressional committees to decide on a budget resolution.

And that's where is it starts to get interesting. The budget resolution serves as a guide for all spending and revenue decisions for the year. At least, that's how it's supposed to work in theory.

But none of this, Ali, has happened since 2009.

VELSHI: And we're going to discuss why. Christine, thanks very much.

Why don't we have a budget? Gridlock, basically. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, says it was not worth trying to go through the process of passing the president's budget. That's why you hear that old Republican saw that Harry Reid won't even present a budget to the Senate.

You may have also heard the oft repeated claim that President Obama's budget was struck down in the House and the Senate, getting zero votes, goose eggs from either parties, but those bills were not the budget.

They were shell versions of the president's budget, put forward by Republicans, designed to fail. They were not budgets. They were just politics.

Republicans did put out their own budget plan in the form of Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity," but bipartisan bickering resulted in no progress there either.

Part of the reason our government has been able to survive without a budget is because of something called continuing resolutions, which are essentially an extension of the existing budget.

So, it is not true, as many of you enjoy tweeting me, that the U.S. doesn't have a budget. We just haven't had a new one in some years and that is a bad thing.

It's also not true that President Obama's budget got no votes because that wasn't Obama's budget.

But the sad truth is that we do not have a budget in the United States, a new one, and there are consequences for that, not the least of which are the dozen or so close calls with government shutdowns in the past few years. We'll probably face another one of those in the coming weeks.

Plus, those continuing resolutions, well, they're short-term. They avoid tackling long-term problems like federal debt and the deficits. The uncertainty of that short-term thinking wreaks havoc on businesses and their investment and unemployment.

Finally, it's been a nightmare of a week for Boeing and its 787 Dreamliner. A series of mechanical glitches on the new super-high- tech airliner are now being looked at by U.S. authorities.

Today, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a review into Boeing's Dreamliner by the Federal Aviation Administration.


RAY LAHOOD, TREASURY SECRETARY: ... will cover the critical systems of the aircraft, including design, manufacturing and assembly.

Through it, we will look for the root causes of recent events and do everything we can to ensure these events don't happen again.


VELSHI: Those recent events include a Japan Airlines Dreamliner filling with smoke on Monday after landing at Boston's Logan Airport and after passengers had already disembarked.

On Tuesday, another JAL Dreamliner in the same airport had to be towed back to the gate because of a fuel leak.

On Wednesday, an All Nippon Airways Dreamliner was grounded before takeoff because of a systems error message in the cockpit.

Now, these incidents aren't necessarily related, but Boeing executives say they've got extreme confidence in the 787. Now, the U.S. government wants to make sure it has as much confidence in the Dreamliner as Boeing does.

Now, I've taken a couple of flights aboard these new Dreamliner 787s and they are sweet, no question about it. It's the first commercial jet made from lightweight composite material that include carbon fiber. They're expensive. They're $200 million a pop and, like other new commercial jets in the past, there are going to be kinks and hiccups that need to be worked out as more airlines fly them.

The bottom line, I'm not afraid to get on a Dreamliner flight. It's still safe to fly compared to driving my car on the highway, but, boy, this is an embarrassing week for Boeing.

All right, make sure you watch us for more in-depth coverage. Tune into "Your Money" this weekend, Saturday 1:00 p.m. Eastern, Sunday, 3:00 p.m. Eastern.

That's it for me. Same time on Monday. I'm out.


BALDWIN: Weather in Australia, it's known for being extreme. We have been telling you about those fires that are still burning through the country's southeast, but now we have this.

Take a look at these amazing pictures, different -- totally different kind of weather event on the western side of Australia. There's a huge red wall of dust caused by a cyclone.

Chad Myers is here, as always, to walk us through pictures like this. And, so, it was caused by a cyclone, but the cyclone was far away?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, the cyclone is still in the ocean. Cyclone, typhoon, hurricane, all same thing ...


MYERS: But just different oceans, but they all -- they do the same thing. They spin the same way. A different direction because it's in the southern hemisphere, but irrelevant.

But on the outside, you know these outer bands that we talk about when hurricanes come onshore, one of the outer bands had a pretty big thunderstorm and one thunderstorm put down this gust front that we call that. And the gust front just blue all of blew this dust into the sky.

Now, the dust is red because the dirt there, like Oklahoma and parts of Texas -- the dirt is red. And, just like sometimes you can get colored tornadoes over red dirt, this was a red wall of dust.

BALDWIN: It is a wall.

MYERS: It is.

BALDWIN: It is a wall. Do we know how high that is?

MYERS: That would be from the base of that little shelf cloud there to the ground, almost 2,000 feet. It could be that high, blowing that dust in the air. Now, this has been very dry. We know about the drought and the heat that Australia has had. This -- could you imagine driving your car through that and not knowing ...

BALDWIN: No. Look how close they are, that dad and his kid.

MYERS: Well, just going to get in the lungs, too, at this point in time, but it's going to get in the air filter of the car. It's just going to be a mess there.

And we're talking earlier -- could you imagine wearing contacts and trying to get that dust out of your contacts? Exactly.

BALDWIN: Stunning pictures.

MYERS: Just crazy out there.

BALDWIN: Chad, thank you.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BALDWIN: And does the thought of neuroscience make your head spin. One company taking the complicated science, breaking it down to a basic level, all in the name of education.

So, I went to Detroit to check it out myself. All it takes is some wires and some roaches.


GREG GAGE, BACKYARD BRAINS: One of the things that we say all the time is that we're changing the world.

We feel this way very passionately that what we're trying to do is change neuroscience education.

I'm Greg Gage. I'm a DIY neuroscientist and I co-founded Backyard Brains.

BALDWIN: What exactly is Backyard Brains?

GAGE: Yeah, so, Backyard Brains, it's a DIY neuroscience company.

BALDWIN: DIY, do it yourself.

GAGE: It's do it yourself. Bring the science down to the most basic forms so that everyone can understand it.

So what we're going to do today is we're actually going to try to listen in on how neurons communicate with each other. They use electricity.

So we're going to do that not on our bodies, but we're going to do it with insects.

BALDWIN: With some roaches. I don't know. GAGE: This is like a "Fear Factor" episode.

We're almost up to 100 high schools, but I'm greedy. We want that across all of the country, you know? We don't just want one kid. We want every kid.


BALDWIN: He is Michigan born and bred. Quite the story, Greg Gage there.

We hope you check out the full story, "Backyard Brains" on "The Next List." Set your DVRs. Watch it Sunday, 2:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN. And thanks to "The Next List" folks for letting me tag along.

The event that draws tech enthusiasts from all around wraps up today in Vegas and, among the cutting-edge products at this year's consumer electronics show, HDTVs.

Not just any HDTV, this next generation known as 4K Ultra HD delivers resolution four times better, apparently, than what's on the market. So, say good-bye to those 3D glasses. This picture is so detailed it looks 3D to the naked eye.

Oh, yeah. New video suggesting Justin Timberlake has a bit of an announcement about his future. That's next.


BALDWIN: Some of the hottest stories in a flash, "Rapid Fire," roll it.

After three decades in the Senate, Jay Rockefeller will call it quits after next year. The West Virginia Democrat will not seek re-election to a sixth term. The 75-year-ol

Rockefeller is chairman of the Senate commerce committee. He considered running for president back in 1992, but then chose to endorse Bill Clinton.

We are mere minutes away here from the closing bell and Wells Fargo, raking in the dough. The bank's profits jumped some 24 percent in the fourth quarter to more than $5 billion. Wells Fargo's lucrative mortgage business is driving the profits for them.

And now this.


JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, ACTOR, "THE SOCIAL NETWORK": A million dollars isn't cool. You know what's cool?


(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: You have seen a lot of this face in the movies recently. "The Social Network," "Bad Teacher," "Trouble With the Curve," just got married, but a new video suggests Justin Timberlake is ready for a change.


TIMBERLAKE: Look, I've only done two albums in 10 years. That's the way I really look at it. What does the next decade mean for me?


BALDWIN: This video, released on Timberlake's website, shows the Grammy winner walking into a recording studio here and saying he's ready for a return to music.

It has been a big, big week for the Duchess of Cambridge. Just this past Wednesday, she turned 31 and, today, Prince William's wife got to see her first official portrait.

Take a look. What do you think? It's an oil painting. This was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in London, so presumably, if you find yourself in London, you can go check it out yourself.

The duchess, she saw it with her own eyes. She described it as amazing while the prince was also said to be thrilled, but reaction elsewhere has been mixed, especially on social media. Many, many people on Twitter say the painting ages the duchess.

Let's take another look at it. Ages the duchess beyond her years, 31 years old.

Let's take a quick at the Big Board before that closing bell, as mentioned, and you can see the Dow is up just a little bit, 11 points, just about to settle above that 13,480 mark, on this Friday.

I hope you all have wonderful weekends. Thanks for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

Now, we take you to Washington, Wolf Blitzer, "The Situation Room."

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Brooke, thanks very much.