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Five Americans Freed From Iranian Detention Back On U.S. Soil; YouTube Blocks Russell Brand From Making Money Off Platform; Amazing Grace Chorus: Making Music That Soothes The Soul. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired September 19, 2023 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Wrongfully detained in Iran for years. Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, Morad Tahbaz, and two other Americans who declined to be identified coming down those steps of that plane. And then the first moments of finally being reunited with their families. I want to play for you how the U.S. envoy for hostage affairs described describe their flight home.


ROGER CARSTENS, U.S. SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR HOSTAGE AFFAIRS: I can say I probably haven't cried this much since I was a little kid. It was a chance to watch five different people interact -- seven people in total interact in a way that was very amazing. I mean, this is the first time that they've had a chance to talk without being surveilled by the Iranian government in years. So, to watch them kind of relax, lighten up, share laughs --


BOLDUAN: For Shargi and Tahbaz, it's the first time in more than five years that they are free. Namazi has been wrongfully -- had been wrongfully detained in Iran for eight years.

CNN's Nic Robertson has more for us. He's joining us now. Nic, these happy -- these images are beautiful seeing these moments, something that these -- some of these families really did not really believe was going to ever happen. But what is next?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, it's amazingly heartwarming, isn't it? I mean, you cannot be yourself feel that emotion that's happening there and empathize with them and understand what they've been through. But, of course, we can't understand what they've been through because we haven't been through it. And this is going to be part of that ordeal coming.

I mean, first off, look, they are going to get medical checks. That may take a couple of days. They aren't going to get medical treatment. They will have their families around them. They will be able to sort of breathe deeper and rest easier but those sleep in the months ahead at night are not going to be easy.

And I -- and I can say this because we've spoken here with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband. Now, she was held by the Iranians for six years. The British -- the British-Iranian was free last year and he talks about her experience of waking up with nightmares of slowly unpacking all that uncertainty, all that terror that they've been through in this awful Evin Prison. So, some of that is to come as well. And of course, they're going to have help with the -- professional help, family help, but it's a burden on them, and they're going to have to live with it.

The deal itself, that's there now, it's up and running, Justice Department will have oversight of the money -- of the accounts that the Iranians will now have access to on old Treasury Department rather, and they will only have access to that money for humanitarian goods. That's up and running. And that will be overwatched and overseen.

But for these five now, it's time for a quieter life away from the sort of the spotlight now and to try and recover. And the reality is, it's not going to be easy. They'll have help, but tough days to come.

BOLDUAN: That's really interesting and I mean an important perspective. It's good to see you, Nic. Thank you so much. A beautiful moment, long-awaited, but a long road ahead as he said.

SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: Yes. It's beautiful to see but there are other Americans that we know of that are stuck abroad for reasons that have nothing to do with them just that they're -- they are Americans. That is what's happened in Russia.

And this morning, a legal setback for the Wall Street Journal, Evan Gershkovich, the reporter they are jailed in Russia. Now, the Moscow court has refused to hear his appeal. Meaning his pretrial detention has been extended through at least the end of November according to Russian state media.

CNN's Matthew Chance was inside the courtroom. He was eventually kicked out by security. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come here. All right.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: OK, well we've been let -- OK, we've been let into the courthouse where you can see Evan Gershkovich in there. Hi, Matthew, from CNN. You holding up all right. No questions. OK, understood.

OK. Well, there he is standing here. And you can see him flicking relaxed. All the cameras being allowed in to take a closer look at him. The security is very tight. What's the problem?


CHANCE: OK. Let's go back.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SIDNER: You see Matthew there and his photographer getting at least a shot to show Evan Gerskovich standing in that awful little cell there as the court is making its determination.


Gershkovich has been in jail since March when he was arrested on espionage charges -- trumped-up charges that both he and the Wall Street Journal have of course strongly denied. The U.S. Ambassador to Russia said this morning. The charges are baseless and Gershkovich was arrested for simply being a journalist and doing his job in Russia. Kate.

BOLDUAN: The Marine Corps is ordering a pause right now in flight operations after a third jet crashes in just recent weeks. The most recent incident happened this weekend. An F-35 fighter jet was declared missing after the crash. Its pilot had safely ejected. The debris field though could not be immediately located.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is tracking it from the Pentagon and he joins us now. Oren, what is the purpose of this pause now?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Kate, first, it's worth noting. It took about 24 hours or so to find that debris field from the crashed F-35B from the Marine Corps that crashed on Sunday afternoon. This is the third Class-A mishap as it's called in the Marine Corps. A major aircraft accident or crash in recent weeks.

So, the acting Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Eric Smith, ordered this two-day pause in flight operations, not only for the F- 35, the type of aircraft that crashed on Sunday, but across all marine aviation aircraft. That includes Osprey's FAA teams, just to review safety procedures and normal operating procedures. All of the policies and procedures that go into flying military aircraft to make sure that it's done safely and to make sure that aircraft operations when they're resumed after this two-day pause, are done as safely as possible.

Obviously, there's an element of risk in any military aviation. Part of the purpose of this two-day pause in flights is to try to minimize that risk as much as possible, especially as these crashes have shone a spotlight on how dangerous this can be, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Now, it's a great point. Thank you so much, Oren. Sara?

SIDNER: All right, ahead. YouTube says it's blocking British comedian Russell Brand from making money off its platform amid allegations of rape and sexual assault against him. And they aren't the only outlet pulling content featuring Brand.

Plus, making a joyful noise. In this morning's "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE," a choir uses music to find healing. That's ahead.


[11:41:44] SIDNER: More followed this morning for Russell Brand in the wake of rape and sexual assault allegations against the British comedian. YouTube now blocking Brand from making any money off its platform, and the theater Royal Windsor where Brand was supposed to have a live tour postponed all of his live performances. Also, the BBC says it has removed some online content featuring Russell Brand. London Police have launched an investigation now into these allegations Monday after several British outlets published an expose on Russell Brand over the weekend. Brand denies all of the accusations against him which are now numerous.

With us now. Elizabeth Wagmeister, chief correspondent for Variety and host of the PBS show, "Actors On Actors." I'm going to, of course, start here with Russell Brand. We will also talk about the WGA strike.

But he is an actor, a comedian, but he has now turned into a really popular conservative pundit and a conspiracy theorist at times. He's being accused by several women of either rape or sexual assault. Are you hearing anything from actors or others in the business that he has worked with?

ELIZABETH WAGMEISTER, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, VARIETY: You know, some past interviews have resurfaced, but there haven't been new comments that have come out. Kristen Bell, who co-starred with him in a very popular movie years ago, there are some comments that are resurfacing, where at the time, it seemed that she was joking and making these comments in jest. But she did say that she essentially had to put him on notice to say don't touch me on set.

There's also some comments from Katy Perry, who -- they were married for 14 months. And now, her comment -- her comments are being looked at again. So, no new comments, but a lot of fallout, as you've mentioned. The most recent YouTube saying that they are stopping all monetization on Russell Brand's content because he has gone against their rules for creators on the platform.

SIDNER: And there have been some comments that have resurfaced of Russell Brand himself joking about raping and then killing a woman. So, a lot of this stuff is coming out after this reporting. There has also been, as you mentioned, the sort of swift response by a bunch of different people to stop him from making money on platforms and in performances.

What do you see here going forward for him as he is denying the allegations? His fans are online, supporting him. But what do you make of both his response and the response of all of these different groups that have now basically cut him off?

WAGMEISTER: Of course, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. And as you have said, Russell Brand strongly denies all of these allegations. He says that every interaction with any woman in his life was consensual.

But what I make of this is there were numerous news outlets who reported on these allegations. They said that their investigation was ongoing for a year. This isn't just one allegation from one woman that is popping up on social media.

SIDNER: Right.

WAGMEISTER: For this to have been published and broadcast by numerous different outlets, that means that multiple newsrooms went through a vetting process. And as a reporter, myself, who has covered many allegations throughout the MeToo movement, I know how rigorously these allegations have to be vetted. So, that certainly lends it some credibility. Doesn't mean they're true, but lends some credibility there.


I also think his reaction. The day that these allegations came out, he actually went on stage before his comedy tour was postponed. Now, it was a full house. There were allegedly 2,000 fans there supporting him. So, as you said, Sara, his fans are supporting him. But I think that response was maybe not taken so well to go on stage that night.

SIDNER: Elizabeth, we'll have to have you back to talk about the strike that is ongoing with the writers. We will do that. Elizabeth Wagmeister, for now, we are going to end this here. Thank you so much for all your comments. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, raising their voices and their spirits. How a choir is helping people who are living with dementia. The next installment of the special series this week, "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE."



SIDNER: All this week, we're bringing you a series called "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE," spotlighting everyday people making really big differences in the world.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. This morning, Amara Walker takes us to St. Paul, Minnesota, where the Amazing Grace Chorus is lifting -- helping to lift the voices and spirits of people battling dementia.


AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR (voiceover): I love this photo of our family together, but this was at my brother's wedding in Brazil. And I would say this is probably the last time that we had a true family trip where my mom was somewhat put together.

My mother has Alzheimer's. She was diagnosed about two years ago officially. My mother's name is Young Sohn (PH). She's 76 years old. My mother was my best friend.

Mom had three pillars in her life. First was family. Second was God. She was an ordained minister. And third was music.

She was a self-taught pianist. She took guitar lessons. She had a beautiful voice. Music has been medicine for my mother. It's been therapeutic.

SHANA MOSES, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, AMAZING GRACE CHORUS: Yes, there's power in music. The Amazing Grace chorus is a gathering, a choir filled with love joy, peace, specifically pointed to make navigating memory loss and isolation a better journey as our elders age.

WALKER: I think Shana Moses is a champion for change because she is finding unconventional more holistic ways to treat dementia patients. And I so appreciate that she's telling us don't solely rely on medications. Let's use music as well to lift up Alzheimer's patients but to also lift up those caregivers who have been sacrificing day in and day out. My father is the one who has been taking care of his wife of nearly 50 years.

KATIE SAMPLE, SINGER, AMAZING GRACE CHORUS: Yes, God is real far I can feel him in my soul. That was one of George's favorite songs. And he was 90 years old and he passed away. And we like come to the choir. I would feel I'm going to be with George.

MOSES: Now, seeing transformation of folks literally where it looks as if their body comes back responsive. One example I think of is one of our members who almost may seem quiet and docile prior to music starting. But when the beat drops, when the music starts, something happens and it's witnessed by everyone.

WALKER: What would you say to loved ones who are on the verge of giving up?

MOSES: They're still there. They're still there. Sing to them.

JOSHUA GRILL, NEUROSCIENTIST, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE: Music can really affect the brain in ways that are medicinal. It may be that association with those positive memories or it may be that it's actually sparking the parts of the brain that release these chemicals that are counter to the symptoms of agitation and aggression. If it works, we should use it.

WALKER: That has been the most healing part of this journey is sitting my mom down on the piano. It helped me remember my mom's tenderness and helped me see a piece of my mom who loved music and leaned on music during her challenging times. What a challenging time she's going through right now with Alzheimer's. So to be able to see my mother, even if it's just 60 seconds lately, it's been so soothing for me because at least I can see that she's still there.


WALKER: Yes, it has been quite a journey for me and my family because we're still on it.


I do want to point out that during that interview, Shana Moses made the case that it's so important that music should be a part of the prescription for every patient with dementia. And I can tell you, it can get very difficult to manage a person who has behavioral issues, outbursts, aggression because of this brain disease. And I'm speaking from personal experience, you know, seeing some facilities and doctors who will medicate and medicate the patient because frankly, it's the easiest way to help control some of these very difficult behaviors.

But until we can find a cure, I do want to encourage all of those in the healthcare industry dealing with dementia patients, please incorporate musical therapy because, at the end of the day, it's free. There's nothing to lose, and there are no side effects, Ladies.

SIDNER: Music is medicine, Amara. Girl, you got us choked up here. That was so beautiful to see you and your mom together.

BOLDUAN: So special.

SIDNER: It was lovely.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

SIDNER: Thank you for that story.

WALKER: Thank you.

SIDNER: And be sure to tune in Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern for the "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE." One-hour special.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Thank -- and that's it for us today. Thank you so much, John Berman, for doing an amazing job over the United Nations today. Thank you all so much for joining us. This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL. "INSIDE POLITICS" is up next.