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Suspicious Package Sent to Arizona Sheriff; Woman Awakes, Asks to See Seger; DEA Bans "Fake Pot" Drugs

Aired April 12, 2013 - 14:30   ET


JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: At this hour, I have to say, Sheriff Arpaio is holding a news conference at his office in Arizona and we hope to hear from him momentarily on all of these issues. His department is not opening mail at this time. They're going back through the mail, in fact, to try to make sure there is nothing suspicious that made it through.

So that's the story. Nothing bad happened. This is nothing new for Sheriff Arpaio. He's had something like nine different threats since 2011, all directed at him, all credible enough to actually have an investigation. We're told at least one person has been arrested. He's a very controversial guy and this kind of thing comes with the territory.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I want to talk to you about that because you know, he has a lot of critics as you just mentioned. Do investigators have any clues about who may have sent this suspicious package?

JOHNS: No clues that they have released to the public. They do tell us they have some idea, but we're getting conflicting information on that. For example, his sheriff's office was under the impression that this package might have at least gone through a postal facility in the state of California.

But when we doubled back and checked with authorities in Flagstaff, Arizona, the police there told us it is all under investigation, you can't jump to that conclusion, so it is anybody's guess where this came from.

LEMON: All right, Joe, you'll be checking in with that news conference as soon as it happens. Joe will be bringing this information. Joe, thank you. We appreciate it.

Coming up here on CNN, a 79-year-old woman wakes up from a five-year coma. That's extraordinary, but then this. Her first words, I want to go to a Bob Seger concert.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to give him a big hug and a kiss and shake my booty for him.


LEMON: I am going to talk to Evie Branan about her dream concert. There she is. That's next. Get ready for Evie.


LEMON: You guys want to watch this story so whatever you're doing, just chill out for a little bit and pay attention. This is a true story. A woman awoke from a coma, not just any coma, a five-year coma.

Her first words, I want to go see Bob Seger. You know where this is headed, right? Here she is, Evie Branan, age 79, last night, before the Bob Seger concert in Michigan.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to give him a big hug and a kiss and shake my booty for him.


LEMON: That's Evie Branan and that's Bob Seger, the Motor City rock 'n' roller. How about that? Her wish came true. Evie Branan is here with us now, live from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Evie, you said you were going to shake your booty. Did you?

EVIE BRANAN: Yes, I did, big time.

LEMON: How much did you enjoy that moment?

BRANAN: That was the best performance I've ever seen him do.

LEMON: Really?

BRANAN: And that was -- and that was my fifth concert of his.

LEMON: Yes. You got to -- you got to talk to Bob Seger. What did you tell him? What did he say to you?

BRANAN: He said, hi, Evie. I'm so honored to meet you and he put his arm around me and gave me a kiss and I put my arm around him and gave him two kisses. He is the most wonderful person.


BRANAN: I just -- I didn't think in my lifetime I would ever get to meet him in person, but I did.


BRANAN: And I just loved it. I'll never forget that night.

LEMON: Yes. So Evie, explain to us, so you were in a coma, and you woke up after five years. Those were your first words and then did he -- did he send -- he heard about it, right? And he summoned you and said, come to the concert?

BRANAN: I don't know. The "Flint Journal" wrote an article about me in the paper and then all of a sudden everybody's news stations, they started writing articles about me. And then the -- I live at Willow Brook Manor and the administrator there, well, I forgot --

LEMON: Yes. So Evie, let me ask you about this, how are you feeling today?

BRANAN: I'm feeling real good, but I'm just nervous a little bit.


BRANAN: Otherwise, I'm fine.

LEMON: You're nervous about being on television? Is that why you're nervous?

BRANAN: I guess.

LEMON: Come on. Don't be nervous. People, we love you, we're talking to you, the whole country loves you. I mean, for someone your age, you said you're going to shake your booty, been in a coma for five years, that's amazing that you can get to do that. Did you ever think in a million years that you would be able to go to another Bob Seger concert?

BRANAN: No. But I never in my life ever thought I would be able to meet him because I've been to four concerts before and I never got to meet him. And then last night when I went in, they had a path for me with my picture on it to go backstage.

And when I met him, I just couldn't believe that -- he just came right over to me and says, hi, Evie, it sure is a pleasure to meet you. And I said, well, for you too. And I -- when he was Bob Seger in the system, I knew one of the guys in the band and asked him about him and I said, do you remember him?

He said, yes. He said he passed away a couple of years ago. He said, no, I never heard that. He said I'm really sorry to hear that and then we just kept talking about everything.

LEMON: And that led to that. So, Evie, just real quick, if you can tell me, do you mind talking -- do you know why you were in a coma, was it just natural? Were you ill?

BRANAN: When I come out of it?

LEMON: Why did you go into a coma? Were you sick at the time?

BRANAN: I have no idea. Nobody can figure out why that was -- that was after five years that was the first thing I said. They said, we would think you would want to see your family instead of Bob Seger.

LEMON: So, listen, Evie, I know your favorite Bob Seger song -- can you sing us to break, your favorite Bob Seger song, please?

BRANAN: The song? Can I sing it?

LEMON: Yes, your favorite.

BRANAN: Not all of it. I can't remember the first part of it, but he says -- I'm older now but I'm still running against the wind, against the wind. I'm still running against the wind.

LEMON: Evie Branan, thank you. Thank you so much. We're glad that you're back with us and you got your wish. We'll be right back.


LEMON: So this is just in to CNN, the government moving one step closer to banning fake pot. Live to Shannon Travis now in Washington. Shannon, this is a big deal, because poisoning and emergency room visits on the rise because of these drugs.

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Don. I mean, they have gotten names like Spice and Mr. Smiley and K-2 and Blaze, as you mentioned. This is fake pot. We're not talking about real marijuana. This is fake pot.

Today, as you mentioned, the government is moving to ban their use. The Drug Enforcement Agency, declaring it is labelling three forms of synthetic drugs as type one, schedule one drugs. Essentially that means you won't be able to buy or distribute them.

Now, even though this is not real, as you mentioned, we're talking about some very real side effects, the DEA says these substances are just as dangerous, vomiting, hallucinations, seizures, loss of consciousness, as a reaction.

As you can imagine a lot of visits to emergency rooms, Don, and poison control officials say nearly all these synthetic marijuana mixtures are imported from Asia, mostly China and India, and the prohibition of their sale and distribution can take effect within 30 days -- Don.

LEMON: Appreciate the update, Shannon. Thank you very much.

Coming up next, the TV show "Glee" takes on school shootings less than four months after the Newtown tragedy. Sandy Hook families are not too happy about it. My panel will weigh in, next.


LEMON: Eating disorders, teen pregnancy, addiction, "Glee" is no stranger to controversial subjects, but "Glee's" latest episode went into unchartered territory when gunshots rang out in school. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's get started.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone spread out and hide, spread out and hide. Find a place to hide over there.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Scary to watch. No one got hurt, though. No gunman was stalking the school hallways. It turns out the gunshots were accidental. Take a look.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know what to tell you, but I stand by my actions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give me the gun. Where did you get that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is my dad's. I wanted to be ready.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know, sweetheart. Don't worry about it. I completely understand. Just give me the gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that's it. This is how it ends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me something so I can talk to -- let me help you.



LEMON: So, you can see, the coach takes the blame for the student and then she gets fired. Some people in Newtown, Connecticut say "Glee's" episode is disturbing and way too soon after 26 people were shot and killed there. Fox did run a warning. They ran a warning before the episode and every commercial break.

So I want to bring in our panel now, a political comedian and CNN contributor Dean Obeidallah, editor-in-chief of is Jawn Murray and then author and radio talk show host Jennie Hutt, and conservative commentator, Kate Obenshain. This one is a very serious subject, guys. So, Jawn, you first, does this "Glee" episode do you think go too far?

JAWN MURRAY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, ALWAYSALIST.COM: Well, you know, I'm sure for the people in Newtown, Connecticut, the episode was too soon. And maybe the local affiliate there should have opted to run maybe a rerun instead of showing this episode.

But while "Glee" took a light hearted approach to a serious issue, it clearly -- we're very close to when it happened, but we haven't made a lot of progress in the gun control laws here in the U.S. So it serves as a reminder, let's not forget this happened not too --

JENNY HUTT, AUTHOR AND RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: That's an excuse for avoiding it?

LEMON: Jenny, does "Glee" deserve props for tackling real life issue or is this show exploiting school shootings for ratings? HUTT: No, I actually commend "Glee" for doing this. I think in our country what happens is something tragic occurs and we think about it and talk about it and then we forget and move on to something else. This is something that should never be forgotten and never happen again. So bringing it up, bringing it to the forefront, having a conversation without showing unnecessary violence I think was a great way to deal with it.

LEMON: Kate, you do not agree from the expression on your face. What's up?

KATE OBENSHAIN, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Yes, absolutely. You know, the parents of those Sandy Hook precious children are shocked and horrified that a television show would have an episode literally exploiting what happens less than four months ago.

And, Jawn, just by even saying that, well, nothing happened on gun control, we should have more of this, well, that is exploitation. That's exactly what it is. For frankly President Obama's been doing it, so I can't blame "Glee" when he comes and --

MURRAY: Hold on. An Obama attack now, OK.

LEMON: Jawn, real quickly, hang on, let Jawn get in quickly and then to Dean. Jawn, what were you saying?

MURRAY: This is not an Obama attack. Let's deal with "Glee." We're talking about a dramady here that dealt with a real issue and there are current issues. We're not going to have a gun control debate in the "Glee" conversation.

LEMON: Dean, go ahead. I see you shaking your head.

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: Let's be honest. This is only about ratings. That's what this is about. "Glee" is on the chopping block to be canceled this year. The ratings went up 20 percent for this episode. They're exploiting a tragedy no doubt about it.

We'll see more tragedies exploited on "Glee." Maybe they will do a Jodi Arias trial one in the future or a tsunami one. I mean, let's be honest, this business is about ratings.

OBENSHAIN: I disagree.

MURRAY: "Law and Order" does this every week this is what law and order is based off of.

LEMON: But I mean, there is a show, remember "Law and Order," ripped from the headlines.

MURRAY: They do this every week. They did the Chris brown and Rihanna episode two weeks ago. That's what TV is about.

OBENSHAIN: It doesn't make it right.

HUTT: Listen, you guys, it is not that -- I don't think it is wrong to try to continue the conversation. If they happen to get good ratings, OK.


LEMON: Hang on, hang on, guys. Stop, stop, stop, when you guys all talk over each other, the people at home can't hear a word you're saying. Jenny and then I'll let the rest of you talk.

HUTT: I understand your concern that the families are impacted by this TV show. There was a warning. I still think for the greater good we have to keep having a conversation and sometimes that's the way to get the conversation to be had. That's my point. Had they had actual violence, it would have been far worse and unacceptable, but they did not.


OBEIDALLAH: You're giving them the benefit of the doubt. You're making us think it is for a higher purpose. I think it is about ratings.

LEMON: Lots more to talk about. Thanks to all of you. We're not going anywhere. We have other subjects to tackle here.

Coming up, full frontal nudity on Network TV, it could happen. My panel is going to weigh in on that next.


LEMON: OK, so the FCC might be loosening up its censorship rules. The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has ordered a review of the FCC's indecency policies. Opening up for the public to weigh in on whether the rules for what is allowed on broadcast TV should change or should they stay the same.

This means full frontal nudity and profanity once reserved for cable TV could soon be allowed on public airwaves. So let's take it to the panel right now. You won't be able to say words like -- I gotcha.

Producers are like, no! Don, don't do it. You're raring to go. My panel is back, Dean Obeidallah, Jawn Murray, Jenny Hutt, and then Kate Obenshain. Kate, you were raring to go last time. I cut you off.

What do you make of this? Do you think this sort of opens the floodgates for people to start, you know, just being nude on television or saying words they wouldn't normally say?

OBENSHAIN: You know, I struggle over this. The libertarian streak in me wants me to say let the market decide and that's why Duck Dynasty and the History Channel survival are gangbusters.

But I'm also the mother of four kids and we have to have a standard of decency in our culture. Yes, it does open the floodgates. We have already seen the floodgates open because the FCC already dismissed a million cases because the backlog is just too much for them to handle.

So there are -- there is a flood of cases that the FCC needs to take seriously instead of dismissing cases. Let's take them seriously.

LEMON: Jenny, you said wow.

HUTT: A couple of things. Number one, some of the cases have been dismissed in part because the law in the first place was too broad and vague. I'm also a lawyer. When I said wow because there is already so much available on the internet and if you want to talk free market, I think network TV is trying to get in the game in terms of making things available that people can find online.

If on regular TV there is nudity, profanity and all the things that people seem to want to watch then perhaps more eyes will come to the television rather than go off to the internet.

LEMON: Dean, as a comedian, we had this conversation on television, the conversation about the n word, whether it should be used and what context it should be used before, gotten a lot of criticism on that. Here's the thing. When you, first of all, parents should be monitoring what their kids watch.

HUTT: Sure.

LEMON: And don't you think sometimes it takes by saying the word it takes tats the taboo away from the word?

OBEIDALLAH: It's true on some level. Is it an appropriate forum for certain things to be said, but what I would like to see, Don, is more cursing on cable news and I want to see Wolf Blitzer call candidates out with real words and not be, like, well, I disagree with you.

I want to see that. You know what, let's be honest, nudity has a place at a certain time for people. I'm a creative person, freedom of expression, big advocate of it as long as people are warned that this program has that.

LEMON: Jawn, before I go to you, I'll say Wolf Blitzer does call people out, but he just uses more sophisticated terms.

OBEIDALLAH: He should curse more.

LEMON: No. We don't have to get our point across with vulgarity. Go ahead, Jawn.

MURRAY: Listen, I mean, in order for network TV to be able to compete with cable and the internet, they have to loosen some of the rules. We do know there is a family hour at 8:00. If your kids are up past 9:00, it is not about what your kids are watching on TV, it is about you being a good parent and putting the kids to bed.

OBEIDALLAH: Do you guys ever watch --

HUTT: At 6:00 to 8:00 you have profanity, frontal nudity, is that OK?

LEMON: Kate, Kate, hang on, guys. Hold on. Remember our talk about everybody talking. Kate, have you ever traveled to other places, to other countries? I see things and hear things I would never see and hear in America television and it is no big deal.

OBENSHAIN: We don't want to be like every other country.

LEMON: Why not?

OBENSHAIN: Because America is --

LEMON: Hang on. Let her finish.

OBENSHAIN: We should be able to sit there with our children during primetime and be able to watch a television show without worrying about whether a woman -- a naked woman is going to --

LEMON: Jenny, here's the thing. In Europe, nudity is not a big deal.

HUTT: Not at all. I agree.

LEMON: Everybody has body parts and everybody was born in their birthday suit. Go ahead, Jenny.

HUTT: To that end, Don, not only is everybody born in their birthday suit and it shouldn't be a big deal. It's just a body. It's just boobs.


HUTT: Excuse me.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Let her finish.


HUTT: The kids could be watching the family time shows with you, with their cell phones and going online and finding pictures of boobs. None of it should be such a big deal.

LEMON: OK. All right.

That's going to have to be it. I hate to be the schoolmarm. Stop it, you kids, stop it, stop the fighting, or you are going to get detention.

All right, Dean Obeidallah, thank you. Jawn Murray, thank you. Jenny Hutt, Kate Obenshain, great conversation. I appreciate your passion about it. I hate being the schoolmarm, though. Thanks.