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tv   Nightline  ABC  January 21, 2011 11:35pm-12:05am PST

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tonight on "nightline," out of their minds. teenagers all across america have embraced the drug salvia. miley cyrus allegedly tried it. jared louger in is alleged to have used it. do you know what this is doing to your child? plus, outback safehouse. we visit a giant animal sanctuary where australia's cutest creatures are making a comeback. and, olbermann out. controversial msnbc anchor keith olbermann makes a surprise on-air announcement tonight. he is leaving the cable channel. why? we have the latest. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with
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terry moran, cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city, this is "nightline," january 21st, 2011. >> good evening. we begin tonight with young people and drug use. our focus is an herb native to southern mexico that causes hallucinations when smoked and can cause the user to lose control of thoughts and actions. it's called salvia and it's perfectly legal in most states. but now it is under increased scrutiny following the allegation that the suspect in the tucson shooting, jarwas a regular user. here's terry moran with our report. >> reporter: if you go to youtube and type in the world salvia, you enter an underground world. it's called salvai, magic mint, sally d. it packs a powerful punch unlike anything else out there.
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>> in higher doses it produces a visionary state. where you basically go into a waking dream. it's very similar to dreaming, like sleep dreaming. only you're awake. >> reporter: all these videos are posted by people who claim shea show people who are smoking salvia. they take a hit and within a minute, seem to get slammed by an intense psychological experience. they go limp, they lose coordination. they start to laugh uncontrollably or call out incoherently, or cry. or just sit there, stunned. after just a few minutes, the trip ends. the kids are back. >> i'd like to think that the trip is over now. >> reporter: and it's not just an isolated sub culture experimenting with the drug. in this video, posted last month by tmz, miley cyrus is
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reportedly smoking salvia. >> the experience is usually not pleasurable. it's usually kind of frightening. >> reporter: it's scary? >> it can be scary. some people are able to handle it better than others. >> reporter: that's daniel, one of the world's experts on salvia. he's researched it, used it and sold it over the years. how much would this cost? >> $65. a graham of this. >> reporter: it's an ordinary looking herb. a member of the sage family, native to the mountains of mexico where the indians used it for spiritual healing. here, it's all about the trip. but is it safe? >> i think that he had smoked salvia to such an extent that something happened in his brain.
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i think he just snapped. >> reporter: kathleen's 17-year-old son brett killed himself in january 2006, zipping himself into a tent in his dad's garage in wilmington, delaware, lighting a grill and asphyxiating himself. according to his parents, he had been smoking the drug on and off for months. he was a straight-a high school senior. he had a job and a girlfriend. he was a together kid. >> i never saw any signs that there was anything wrong. >> reporter: brett's mom, kathleen, believes her son's salvia trips were reshaping his mind, the way he saw himself and life and the world. he left behind a journal. >> our system of time has no meaning and is completely pointless in the grand scheme of things. also, our existence in general is pointless when compared with everything else there is no the universe. us earthly humans are nothing. the brett that i knew and loved,
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he would never have said that. he would never have believed that. >> reporter: and there are chilling similarities between brett's journal entries and the internet ramblings of jared lee loughner. according to his friends, he, too, seemed to go through changes after using salvia. >> it did have a huge play in what he thought. the side effects, the long-term effects. he would talk about using it, say what it would do to him and i would be like, dude, that's -- that's screwed up. >> reporter: brett's parents are now speaking out, campaigning to have salvia outlawed, as it's been in delaware. brett's law, as it's called. so, when they see the videos, they want to warn others. >> reporter: pare . >> parents, a lot of them are oblivious to what's going on.
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i didn't know what he was doing, as close as i was with brett. but no, when i watch them, i think, you know, wow, people really should be scared. >> i don't think anyone would decide to commit suicide as a result of a salvia experience. it's inconceivable to me. you know, i assumed he must have had some other issues in his life. >> reporter: daniel argues that salvia, when used properly, can help deepen awareness. you mention beneficial. how do you mean that? for whom, how? >> it's beneficial as a tool for introspection, which i mentioned previously. and that's not something that should be minimized. sometimes i've taken salvia where i've had some difficult life situation with a relationship problem or something like that, where i was uncertain about, what should i do about this and i've taken salvia and suddenly, i just -- it's totally clear. it's like, why didn't i see this
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before? >> reporter: now, maybe that sounds a bit far out to you, a little trippy. but many medical researchers are excited about salvia because they say its unique proper tips hold tremendous promise. >> there may be some dririves that would be active against cancer. and hiv, there's some tantalizing evidence that part of it may prevent two have cremes fusing together. this is big stuff. at the present time, there are a lot of therapeutic targets that have many people excited. >> reporter: and it's worth explorin exploring? >> no question. i think you're seeing a lot of investment in the basic science world. >> reporter: but all that investment, all that promise could vanish overnight if the government criminalizes the sale or possession of salvia, as the arizona legislature and the federal drug enforcement agency are considering doing right now. >> i think it would scare away development and could inhibit it.
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>> keep going. >> reporter: but what about all those young people tripping on salvia? and what if jared lee loughner's dissent into violence was driven by his use of salvia? should the government try to stop this? >> if it has benefits to people, then, you know, we're all for that. >> dude, how do you stop? >> reporter: but to just have it used randomly here and there by kids of all -- brett was 16 when he purchased it, you know? had no idea the ramifications, i mean, there was no warnings, there was no nothing. and to have it out there and readily available to kids at that age or even younger, you know, i'm just totally against that. >> our thanks to terry moran for that fascinating report. when we come back, small members of the kangaroo family are dying out in australia. we go inside the effort to save
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some of the world's cutest creatures. as a kid, i couldn't wait to skate on that ice. what was i thinking? but i was still skating on thin ice with my cholesterol. anyone with high cholesterol may be at increased risk of heart attack. diet and exercise weren't enough for me. i stopped kidding myself. i've been eating healthier, exercising more and now i'm also taking lipitor. if you've been kidding yourself about high cholesterol, stop. lipitor is a cholesterol-lowering medication, fda approved to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients who have heart disease or risk factors for heart disease. lipitor is backed by over 18 years of research. [ female announcer ] lipitor is not for everyone, including people with liver problems and women who are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant. you need simple blood tests to check for liver problems. tell your doctor if you are taking other medications or if you have any muscle pain or weakness. this may be a sign of a rare but serious side effect. let's go! [ laughs ]
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working to reverse. here's colllarissa ward. >> reporter: it's australia's national mascot. adorable, unique and agile. it inspired that unforgettable '60s hit -- ♪ tiny kangaroo dance >> reporter: and it's been hopping around this vast country for tens of millions of years. along with a host of its exotically named relatives, wallabies, billbys and mallas. they're all part of the macrapod family. and it not hard to guess how they got that name. >> this is the one with the broken leg. >> reporter: but while the bigger members of this family are thriving, the smaller ones are dying out fast. >> australia leads the world in the number of extinct mammals.
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>> reporter: in the last 200 years, almost half of all the mammals that have gone extinct in the world have been australi australian. of 76 species, 42 are threatened. dr. matt hayward is a conservationist with the australian wildlife conner is van si. he's leading one of the most ambitious biodiversity projects in the world. reintroducing seven of the rarest ma'am ma'ams back into the world. >> the aim of this project is to get all the species that used to occur here and reintroduce them. >> reporter: to get there from australia's capital, you have to take two planes and then drive and drive and drive. so, i think we're now officially in what australians call the outback, which basically means the middle of nowhere. we turned off that main highway about an hour ago, which was really just a two-lane road and now we've been careening along
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these red dirt roads and i have yet to see another human being. arriving at the 106,000-acre sanctuary truly feels like stepping back in time. >> what australia would have been like 200 years ago. >> reporter: before britain colon niced and brought along their own animals. >> they didn't evolve strategies to cope with the new predators. so, whatever the fox and cat arrived, you see massive declines in the number of species. >> oh, we have more visitors. one, two, three, four, five. >> reporter: there are now just 1,500 of these left in the world. 1,000 of them here.
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it's amazing they're endangered, but they don't seem frightened at all. the idea behind it is astonishingly simple. build a fenced area to keep the foxes and cats out and get the species numbers up. did you start to see results as soon as the fence went up? >> i think out of the seven species that we've reintroduced here, six of them are skyrocketing. >> reporter: as the sun goes down and the moon comes up, hayward checks on his charges and fills their feeders. >> nighttime, just driving around in the bush, seeing the species that have been extinct for almost 100 years now is just a real treat. >> reporter: we're lucky enough to come across one such creature. so, this is a malla. it's incredibly rare to be able to get up so close to an animal like this. they're actually completely
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extinct in the wild. the challenges arise with the next phase of this project. getting the animals outside the fence. so far, the awc has released one set of these wallabies, keeping track of their movements with radio collars. >> it senses them, sort of around here. >> reporter: the other 19 strayed too far and were killed. conservationists here hope the next release will fare better. >> the fence is really valuable in keeping these things from becoming extinct, but it would be nice to think that, you know, one day, that might not be necessary, that you could actually restore the landscape to a state where they can, you know, survive and sort of prosper as they used to do. >> reporter: but foxes and cats aren't the only dangers australia's animals face. land clearing operations have destroyed huge swaths oaf their natural habitat. and of the larger gray and red kangaroos, most are killed by
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cars. lisa runs a shelter for injured kangaroos and orphaned babies, known as joeys. >> it must be 20 years now. probably the most that i've ever had in one time would be 17. >> reporter: she works closely with hayward. >> it's very, very nice to look after an endangered species. and then for it to be released. >> reporter: do you ever worry about the future of the kangaroo in australia at all? >> if i didn't worry, then i probably wouldn't do it. >> reporter: for now, it's these little guys whose existence hangs in the balance. >> best case would be that all the species that are still alive, we've got them back into secure fenced areas and we move them outside the fenced areas. worst case is they all go extinct. it would be a shame for my grandkids to lose that, and not be able to see them. >> reporter: a shame for all
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australians and anyone who has a chance to visit here. for "nightline," i'm clarissa ward in the australian outback. >> a safe zone in the outback. up next, you may know their work, and a lot of their animations are hard to forget. we go inside what may be the animations are hard to forget. we go inside what may be the world's wackiest media company. ?o?o?o?o?o?o?o?o?o ?o?o?o?o?o?o?o?o?o?o?o?o?o?o?o?o hot waffles... the smell of warm maple syrup. honeysuckle and rosemary. the smell of shaving cream. whatever scents fill your household, purina tidy cats scoop helps neutralize odors in multiple cat homes... giving you just what you need to keep your house smelling like it should. purina tidy cats scoop. keep your home smelling like home. it's your fault.
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and try...and try. i heard eating wle grain oats can help lower my cholesterol. it's gonna be tough. my wife and i want to lowe our cholesterol, but finding healthy food that tastes good is torturous. your father is suffering. [ male announc ] honey nut cheerios tastes great and can help lower cholesterol. >> announcer: "nightline" continues from new york city with cynthia mcfadden. >> it's a cooky mix of news and commentary, animated video re-enactments of stories from
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the frant page that may begin with the facts, but then swerve without warning, sometimes, into scenes of spur fantasy. you have to see them to believe them. and that's exactly what millions of audience members are doing. and for daniel seebert, that's a "sign of the times." >> president hu, these are some important friends i would like you to meet. >> reporter: forget the real red carpet treatment in the virtual world, the chinese president gets a massage from microsoft's ceo. but behind the cartoons are real people. in fact, you may not believe it, but these two actors have a global following that rivals angelina jolie and brad pitt, reachi ining millions of fans e week. don't recognize them? well, maybe a clip from the final product will help. yes, they star in those wacky taiwanese animations that seem
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to have taken the world by storm. and, like nike, the face of tiger woods initially became synonymous with their particular brand of humor. from steven slater's jet blue escape to the late night wars to the bedbug infestation of new yo york. and the mad cap genius who started it all is this man, often referred to as the rupert murdoch of southeast asia. >> when you turn the news into image, it's so much more impactful and sensational. like tiger woods that was the first we put out and it was all over the world. we are media people. we know what makes the sensation of news. we know what makes people pay attention to. >> reporter: he tapped into taiwan's video game industry, turning their animation work force into his own. with more than 250 employees
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that work 24 hours, 7 days a week to churn out 20 minutes of animation every day. many are tied to u.s. news events. how do you decide which stories from the united states become part of one of your animations? >> well, at the end of the day, it's really the viewers who decide. of course, we have a team who scan the news every day and they know the topics that will do well on animation. >> reporter: and in the interest of new age journalism, i decided to dig a little deeper into the process myself. >> ready? >> reporter: cocreate a 30-second clip like this one, it only takes them about three hours, from story board to animation to the final product. but if the company has more time, like, days or weeks, then they can take it to another level, on par with a hollywood movie.
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would you call yourself a news man or more of a, someone who provides entertainment for the masses? where do you fit into that? >> well, i think i'm a newsman, trying to do something, you know, in the entertainment business, because the tv business is very different from the newspaper business. >> reporter: for traditional journalists, his comedy approach doesn't zillionth well. >> anything new, people just complain about, because they can't stand it, it's so graphic, it's so impactful. it's something they have to get used to and we have to get used to the way they like it. so, we have to try and make the best of out it. >> reporter: he is determined to get a bigger slice of internet viewers. maybe one way to improve the numbers, how about animating the most popular show in late night? no need to thank me, guys. i'm daniel sieberg for "nightline." >> i don't note about the bear.
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and for a further look behind the scenes, look at how the videos are made, visit your website at abcnews.c when we come back, olbermann out at msnbc. but first, here's jimmy kimmel with what's coming up next. jimmy? >> jimmy: tonight, james mcavoy, jim stur guess, music from kt tunstall and "this week in unnecessary censorship." "jimmy kimmel live" is next. [ female announcer ] why settle for plain bread when you can have pillsbury grands! flaky layers biscuits? the warm, light delicate layers are like nothing else. ♪
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