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Magnitude 8.8 Earthquake Strikes Off Coast of Chile; 247 So Far Reported Dead; Tsunami Warnings Still in Effect for Japan, Russia

Aired February 27, 2010 - 23:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I want to tell you, it's the top of the hour, everyone. We're following breaking news. I'm Don Lemon at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, again, watching CNN's breaking news coverage of the massive Chile earthquake. At least 214 people confirmed dead right now from the quake. But that number almost certain to rise.

Chile's president says about two million people have been affected by the disaster in some way. Millions of homes have been damaged, and countless buildings, roads and bridges damaged as well. A magnitude 8.8 quake, one of the most powerful ever measured, struck about 200 miles outside the capital of Santiago. There have been at least 76 aftershocks, including a 6.1 quake in Argentina that killed two people.

The quake has sparked tsunami warnings across the Pacific. At this hour, people as far away as Russia and Japan, as our Kyung Lah just reported -- they're preparing for the very worst. Let's bring in now CNN's meteorologist Jacqui Jeras.

Jacqui, you saw Kyung there standing by. She said they have some history. They're worried this could be a repeat of that, deja vu, in some ways. What are you hearing now from Japan?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We're hearing that they should be worried, and that there is a concern. This could happen as early as maybe a half an hour from now.

Keep in mind, it's not exact. We could see this happen a little bit earlier or a little bit later. As we watched this unfold when we concerned about the tsunami in Hawaii, it was about an hour later than the initial estimates. Everything's been updated since that time. So it will almost have been 24 hours from the time that the initial quake happened that we could see some of the final heavier waves.

You can see this is the 24 hour mark. And that's right about when it's going to be moving, as anticipated, through Japan and Russia. Those are the only two countries right now that continue to be under tsunami warnings. Those tsunami watches are still posted out for the Philippine Islands over here.

I want to show you this map from the Japanese Meteorological Agency. And this shows you the areas where the greatest wave heights are going to be concerned. The greatest potential right up here on the northern parts of the island, which is less populated than places like Tokyo, for example, which is right in this area. It's the red that could be around ten feet or a couple meters. And then you can see the orange area is where more of a moderate tsunami could be occurring.

Any time you see any of these little inlets or any of these little bays, this could all funnel that water a little more specifically and start to see some of those bigger heights. And it also happens to do with the topography of the ocean floor, basically. We call it the symmetry -- kind of a fancy word for you -- but that slope that leads up to the coast, and up to the coastline, that elevation, is what pushes that whole column of water and moves it on up.

We could watch this sloshing back and forth, by the way, in the basin, continuing not just today, but also into tomorrow. We'll continue to have unsettled conditions. So be aware of that if you're anywhere across the world in the Pacific Basin, that the water is going to be behaving unusually.

I want to show you one other concern, one other thing that we're dealing with here tonight. This is the threat of the aftershocks. There you can see the big orange dot. That would be 8.8. We have had literally more than 50 aftershocks since that time, some of which have been over magnitude 6.0. That's very significant. And we'll continue to watch for those in the days and weeks to come.

But an 8.8 -- boy, Don, this is really a grand-daddy of an earthquake, so to speak. If it continues to verify, this will be in the top five of most intense earthquakes that we've ever experienced -- has ever been reported.

LEMON: Unbelievable. Jacqui, listen, stand by. You said it could happen within the next 30 minutes. We're also working at any moment to get some pictures from Japan, some live pictures, and also possibly something on tape as well. So Jacqui, stick around. Hope our viewers stick around as well, because we're going to see what happens in Japan. Hawaii dodged a bullet, but we don't know if it's going to happen in Japan. This one is supposed to be stronger. We shall see.

Jacqui, appreciate it.

JERAS: Sure.

LEMON: Imagine waking up to that. You know that is not good news. Tsunami warning sirens rang out across Hawaii earlier today after the powerful earthquake hit Chile. Thousands of people evacuated to higher ground. Beaches cleared. But even from a distance, all eyes were on the ocean.

Then Saturday afternoon, several tsunami waves hit, but they were smaller than expected. And two hours after the waves came ashore, the tsunami warning ended up getting cancelled. Officials say Hawaii dodged a bullet, but there are reports -- no reports of major damage. CNN's own Thelma Gutierrez was one of the thousands who had to evacuate. She was on the big island of Hawaii. We'll talk to her about what she went through.

We have some new video into CNN tonight that shows what happened as the quake hit. It's from I want you to pay attention. Watch and listen.




LEMON: Listen, you can hear the people screaming there. Those of you who speak Spanish know what they were saying. They're saying "calm down, calm down. Please stay calm." Others can be heard saying, "watch yourself over there." There's screaming in the background. "Right now it's shaking, what's happening? Please calm down. It's already passed, it's over, it's over." And then someone saying, "I know my mom is worried."

Of course, you heard the car alarms going off, and then you saw the sparking of the wires. And thus what's happened so far, as we have reported. We're keeping an eye on that as well, because we're sure they're going to find other places with damage.

A good way to get to our next person that you see right there. All of this information that you're seeing coming from our Chile desk. And there is Mr. Carlos -- Luis Carlos Velez -- he's standing by, tracking the latest information. What are you seeing?

LUIS CARLOS VELEZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Don, it's almost -- past midnight, actually, in Santiago. The Chile people have been forced to sleep in the streets, not only because they probably have lost their houses, but because they're scared about the aftershocks, obviously. At this time, the situation is quite peaceful. We've been talking to several media outlets there in Chile, and they say that the authorities are not reporting any incidents.

Terra TV released also this video that we're going to show you. This is minutes after the earthquake.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was very strong, wasn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, very strong. Very strong.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like I can't believe it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am, how are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scared, very scared. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you -- you saw it. We all saw it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mom is worried, isn't she?


VELEZ: Local authorities are talking about more than 300 people dead. Obviously, the numbers are going to be revised in a few minutes and a few hours.

Now, let's watch the video. This is Concepcion, the second biggest city in Chile. A building collapsed, and rescue operations are going on right now. So far, 22 people have been found alive, 60 are reported as missing. Local media is reporting that people here are sleeping at the top of the mountain, because the mountain surrounds that city. They're scared of new earthquakes or tsunamis.

Let's talk about the government. The Chilean government is not receiving any international help. They're saying that they don't need it at this moment. This is what President Michelle Bachelet had to say.


PRES. MICHELLE BACHELET, CHILE (through translator): The forces of nature have hurt our country greatly, and we are now having to face adversity and having to stand again. And we are taking all necessary measures to normalize, little by little, the function of all of the basic services and utilities in our country. But there's a great task ahead of us.


VELEZ: The international airport in Santiago is closed. It is going to be closed in the coming hours. Planes have been diverted to Lima and Buenos Aires. Back to you.

LEMON: Luis Carlos Velez manning our Chile desk, thank you, sir.

Former "American Idol" contestant Elliott Yamin caught in the middle of the Chile quake.


ELLIOTT YAMIN, "AMERICAN IDOL": The building was swaying back and forth, as was my room. Things were starting to fall off the wall. The lights were starting to flicker on and off. And --


LEMON: Elliot Yamin soon with the rest of the story.

Still reeling from the Haiti disaster, the Red Cross preparing to help with the aid for Chile.

And real talk -- real talk from Congressional short timer on what needs fixing in our broken government. It was one heck of an exit interview.

Also, time for you to be part of the conversation. Look at your screen. That's how you can do it.


LEMON: So listen, I just happened to fall asleep with the TV on, woke up in the middle of the night, and this story was playing on CNN. Our international unit was simulcasting with domestic. One of the first people we heard from was this man, Rolando Santos. He was there first hand for the fury. He's a senior vice president for our partner network, CNN Chile. He was really one of the first people to describe what happened to the US audience. Take a listen to what he said.


ROLANDO SANTOS, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CNN CHILE: I got up a little bit before it started. I have lived in California, worked and lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco. So trembles and quakes are not a big deal to me. I thought, oh, it's a quake, and kind of blew it off a little bit. Then it started getting worse.

I looked out over the skyline from my apartment, and I can see Santiago. The next thing I know, Santiago went dark, and I'm on the floor, and the lamp shades are -- the lamps are coming down, all the books, stuffs off the wall. And I -- I tried to get up once and I fell right back down. I wound up crawling into the bathroom and into the bathtub. I was counting, one thousand, two thousand, three thousand. I was trying to get an idea of how long it lasted. I got to 20 seconds inside the tub. I know it took me at least that long to get there.

LEMON: Most people are saying, Rolando, it lasted for about 45 seconds to a minute. In that time, it may seem short. But when it's happening, I'm sure it seems like an eternity. But apparently, 8.8, it was very violent, obviously knocking down structures that have been there forever, and pretty secure structures, and, of course, killing 214 people.

SANTOS: You know what, this country has a long history of earthquakes. One of the largest earthquakes was a 9.5 magnitude in 1960 that killed 3,000 people. So they're used to earthquakes. Even by any Chilean standard, the psyche of this country definitely got rocked by this particular earthquake. People are shaken tonight.

It's just after dark now. People are shaken. They're uncertain, because communications are iffy, so they can't get ahold of their loved ones. They're using social networking. Twitter lines are going crazy.

And most of all, there's a lot of anxiety, because there have been dozens and dozens of after -- I stopped counting the aftershocks after they hit 25. We've had an aftershock as strong as 6.8 that we saw all the way in Argentina. So that's pretty much the situation right now. People are trying to get settled in for the evening. And every time one of these aftershocks hits, there's a collective -- you hold your breath, wait to see how long it lasts, and then you try and go back about your business.

LEMON: Rolando, we have a lot to cover here. But real quickly, speaking of those aftershocks, how bad are they? What do they feel like?

SANTOS: You know, the whole news room shakes. And it doesn't just shake for five or six seconds. It will sit there and vibrate back and forth. The longest one we counted here in the news room was close to 40 seconds.

LEMON: Your reaction -- I'm not sure if you heard the president of Chile -- reaction to her comments, talking about 2.2 -- at least 2.2 million people affected by this, and asking people to hold on. There's going to be help. And asking for help from the international community, while thanking the international community in advance as well?

SANTOS: As I said, this is a country that's very much aware of earthquakes. I think one of the reasons that the death count hasn't gotten any higher at this point is because they have had so many quakes that every time they rebuild, they rebuild with the latest seismic technology and building techniques. I think that's one of the reasons that even though technically this was -- I think I read some or someone one of the experts say 700 times stronger than the one in Haiti -- the number -- the death toll should be far less than that, simply because this is a country that over the years -- because of all the earthquakes -- has basically rebuilt itself, being conscious of that happening.

LEMON: This is my final question to you, how long before rebuilding? You keep mentioning that? But before things can at least get back to some normalcy?

SANTOS: You know what, I think it's way too early to answer that. Right now, they're just getting into many of the areas, because major roads and bridges that connect the country from north to south are gone at this point. So there's no way to really give you an idea of that.


LEMON: We'll keep you up to date really with how can you help. Not only the latest information, but how you can help. You can you find out the latest on relief efforts and what you can do. Just go online to our Impact Your World page

Tears and prayers, and a tribute to a trainer who died doing the job she loved. Sea World reopens after this week's tragic accident. A big crowd turned out to watch the whales and honor the trainer.

Winter's wrath, how much more can the northeast take? Another storm paralyzes the region.

And director Antoine Fuqua is talking to me about his new movie. It's called "Brooklyn's Finest." Why he says the movie is gritty and gripping and you should see it. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We want to check some of the big news happening today. A suicide car bomber in Pakistan attacked a police station on Saturday, killing four people and injuring more than 20 others. It happened in the northwest frontier province. This is the third time in a week that a police station in that region of Pakistan has been attacked.

Listen to this one, we've been reporting on this one, a follow-up for you. A former Juarez, Mexico police officer has been arrested in connection with the recent massacre of 15 people at a house party. Remember, students were involved in that? Mexican police tell CNN that Aldo Fabio Hernandez Lozano has confessed to killing at least 40 people since becoming a hit man for the Juarez Cartel.

The show went on on Saturday at Sea World in Florida, just three days after a female trainer was killed by that giant whale, that killer whale, 12,000 pounds. Some 2,000 people showed up at the park to pack the stadium for that first show, which included, of course, a memorial for the dead trainer. The killer whale didn't perform today. But officials there say he is going to be a part of other shows, even though he's been involved in three deaths.

The latest winter storm to hit the northeast is moving out to sea right now. I'm sure people there are glad to see it go. But it's really leaving behind a big mess. We're not just talking about icy roads. Utility crews trying to restore power to nearly a half a million homes and businesses. That's down. A lot more people without power. Heavy snow, flooding rains and hurricane force winds battered the region and cancelled more than 1,000 flights.

Good luck, everyone there.

You can add another congressman to the list of those who will soon be leaving Capitol Hill. There he is right there, Georgia Republican John Linder. He announced today that he will retire after nine terms. Term limits, we'll talk about that in a bit. He's perhaps best known for sponsoring legislation for the so-called Fair Tax. Linder is the seventh House Republican to announce his retirement. More on our retiring congressman coming up right here on CNN. You don't want to miss that interview.

Tsunami waves racing around the globe. They have already hit Hawaii. Next in their path Japan. And we are hearing that Japan is starting to feel it right now. The very latest, when will it arrive straight ahead. Our Jacqui Jeras checking in.

And an eyewitness in Hawaii, our very own Thelma Gutierrez, who was one of the thousands who had to evacuate. She's talking with us straight ahead.


LEMON: Today's massive Chile earthquake has sparked tsunami warnings across the Pacific. And all these hours later, we have learned that the first tsunami wave to reach Japan are now coming ashore. More on that in just a bit with our Jacqui Jeras.

Evacuations have been ordered in coastal areas of both Japan and Russia. And Japan's Meteorological Agency has warned of what it termed a major -- that's a quote -- a major tsunami.

In Chile, the earthquake damage is staggering. More than a million homes damaged so far, and countless bridges, roads and other structures completely destroyed at this hour. At least 214 people are now confirmed dead from today's massive earthquake in Chile; 15 are missing. Sadly, those numbers will probably go up.

Chile's residents say about two million people have been affected by the disaster. A magnitude 8.8 quake, one of the most powerful ever measured, struck about 2,000 miles outside the capital of Santiago. There have been 76 aftershocks, including a 6.1 quake in Argentina that killed two people.

Let's turn now to our meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. Jacqui, we've been hearing about the tsunami warnings in Japan. Hopefully they'll dodge a bullet, as we've been saying, like Hawaii, but we shall see.

JERAS: We shall see. And the first tsunami has officially occurred, by the way, for the Japanese islands of Ogazuara (ph), way out here, this little tiny island. It was a ten centimeter tsunami. So, do the math, that's about four inches, I think. Very minimal, which is good.

LEMON: We call that a fish storm when it's a hurricane, right?

JERAS: Right, barely registered.

LEMON: That would be a minnow storm.

JERAS: You don't want to diminish it, because one of the things it tells us, regardless of how big it is -- it tells us that the ocean is moving. Things are changing. And it's about 500 miles away from Tokyo right now. so if this thing is moving at 500 miles per hour, it's getting close.

We'll start to watch this and see what happens. Notice -- look at some of these trenches in here, and how that water is going to get funneled and pushed up. We could definitely see some issues here as those waves begin to move in.

Here are the warnings -- here's where the Japan Meteorological Agency is expecting the greatest wave height, which would be maybe up to 10 feet. So we'll see if this all pans out. But something else to talk about -- you say, OK, well, four inches, big deal. But the first wave that comes in -- I hate to call it a wave, because it's almost an inundation of how the water starts slowly rising and moving in. It's not necessarily the first one that arrives that's going to be the biggest.

These will come every five minutes, maybe ten minutes, maybe fifteen minutes or longer apart. And each one could potentially be progressively greater. We'll watch this unfold here. We're right around that time we were expecting to arrive, Don. So the next hour or two will be extremely critical.

LEMON: You did say it would happen in about 30 minutes. That was at the top of the show. Listen, we were kind of joking around, but that's because you said it was just about four inches. But it starts, as you said, small, and then gets progressively bigger. And so it could get a lot bigger. Again, as we said, we hope it doesn't happen. Jacqui's keeping an eye on it. Jacqui, thank you so much.

So Hawaii already had a taste of those tsunami waves. Fortunately, there was no major damage today. Our Thelma Gutierrez is in Hilo, on the big island of Hawaii. Thelma, I heard you woke up to the sirens. You had to evacuate along with hundreds of others, at least seek shelter and find some higher ground. Hundreds, if not thousands of others, in Hawaii?

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Don. You could you say that it was a rude awakening. It was about 5:00 in the morning here when the sirens started going off here on the island. A little bit after that, the sirens started going off in the hotel. Very loud. And then after that, we had people running from door to door, the security guards here at the hotel -- they were pounding on the doors, telling people to hurry up, and get out.

And so it was frightening for people with children, who had to gather up their things and figure out what they were going to take, and then make their way across this huge resort, down to the busses that were waiting to take them to higher ground. But as you can see, right out here, many people are back at the resort now. They're out here in an area called Buddha's Point. They're watching the sunset. So business back to normal here on the coast, Don.

So Thelma, listen, great job. I'm glad that business is back to normal and it looks beautiful. So we're hoping that Japan has the same fate as Hawaii does. Our Thelma Gutierrez, who had to evacuate herself today, is joining us from the Big Island. Thank you. Glad you're safe.

So musician and former "American Idol" contestant Elliott Yamin was in Chile when the quake happened. Take a close listen.


YAMIN: The building was starting to sway back and forth, as was my room. Things were falling off the wall. The lights were starting to flicker on and off. And that swing very abruptly turned into just a very violent shake. And that's when I stood up -- stood up and kind of headed toward my doorway.


LEMON: Want to know the rest of the story for this former "American Idol?" After the break.


LEMON: 8.8, I mean, that is just ginormous. That's a huge, huge event to happen, seismic event to happen. You really can't understate just how big it is. So listen, it started to play out when most people were asleep in bed. I want you to take a look at how this all started.


LEMON (voice-over): It hit in the middle of the night, 3:34 local time off the coast of Chile, a massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake, shaking the ground with unbelievable force.

SANTOS: There was a violent shaking in Santiago. No question about it. I literally got knocked out of bed and on to the floor. And it was pretty clear, because of the length of the earthquake, that it was going to be a major earthquake.

LEMON: The force 800 to 900 times stronger than the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January.

LORENA RIOS, VISITING SANTIAGO, CHILE: The intensity kept going up and up and up. Everything was moving. I actually thought that the ground was going to swallow the entire car.

LEMON: The damage on land is only part of the problem. The rumbling sent pulses across the Pacific, triggering tsunami warnings in dozens of countries, from Russia to Indonesia, Japan, Australia and, in the US, Hawaii.

BARRY HIRSHON, PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER: There will be many, many waves. And what will happen, when we think the amplitudes have decreased, then civil defense will give an all clear that it's safe to come back. But I would stay away until civil defense gives the all clear.

LEMON: Chile's president taking to the airwaves, declaring areas off catastrophe, urging people to stay calm.

BACHELET (through translator): Sometimes people stay in homes that are high risk, just to protect their property. And I would like to make a call -- of the higher moral conscience -- basic higher moral conscience, because when we have such a catastrophe of this nature, we are all involved.

LEMON: Now the death toll climbs from a rumbling Earth.


LEMON: Much, much more on this story. Musician and former "American Idol" contestant Elliot Yamin was in Chile when the quake hit. Josh Levs spoke to him about what happened.


YAMIN: It was about 3:20 in the morning. I was on the sixth floor of our hotel in my room, at my desk, coincidentally. Go figure. I was actually Tweeting at the time that the earthquake struck. And it was just, obviously without warning. It was a very abrupt kind of swaying back and forth. And then --

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Swaying, as in the building started swaying, the whole building?

YAMIN: Right, the building was swaying back and forth, as was my room. Things were starting to fall off the wall. The lights were starting to flicker on and off. And then that swing very abruptly turned into just a very violent shake.

And that's when I stood up and kind of headed toward my doorway, and opened my door, of course, just to see if anybody else was doing the same. And if anybody else was out on the -- in the hallways. And I was kind of yelling out, earthquake, earthquake, get out, get in the doorway.

I feel lucky to have sought out safety. I took the steps. There was one lone person who happened to be my neighbor next door to me, who was left on the floor at the time. And as I was yelling out, I saw him peak around the corner, and he headed toward the stairs. And amidst the building rumbling, it was like a movie. It was like a Hollywood film. We're running down the hall as we're being thrown about the hallways.

We reached the staircase, and ran down six flights of stairs to safety, and luckily got out unharmed, unscathed.


LEMON: That is former "American Idol" contestant Elliott Yamin.

Listen, we want to show you some new video that is just coming in to CNN. This is from Namura, Japan. The city of Namura, in Japan, it's north Japan. This is what they are watching, of course, the coast, and the waters there very closely. This is from Japanese television, again, from northern Japan. We're keeping a close eye on that.

Quick look -- can we take a live shot at the preparations that are underway there, the live picture in Japan that on that same router that we saw? Let's just show this. This is Japanese television. This is Myoko (ph) Beach that we're looking. It's northern Japan. We're taking -- obviously, this is from one of our partner networks in Japan who have been working with us. This is their live coverage they're dipping into.

I'm not sure if these pictures are live, but this is what they're reporting. Again, I think this is the newscast going on right now. Namura City in Japan, and then also another site there in Japan. Obviously, the preparation -- we heard from our meteorologist here, Jacqui Jeras, that some of these tsunami waves are already starting to hit. They're small right now. We're keeping a close eye on them.

We're with you live, at least here in the United States, for the next 20 minutes. Won't you stay tuned. If something happens, you'll get it right here. Again, I want to welcome our viewers from around the world, 210 countries from around the world, our international viewers as well.

Reports of a puzzling move by Iran; why has the country moved its nuclear fuel to a risky new location? And they've got nothing to lose, because they're not seeking re-election, these next group of people. More from our candid interview with six retiring congressmen. Why are they doing it? And what is their message to the American voter? You might be surprised.


LEMON: Our top stories here in the United States. The "New York Times" is reporting that Iran has moved almost all of its nuclear fuel stockpile to a plant above ground. An international inspector said that's like putting a bull's eye on it. Some even speculate that Iran is inviting an outside attack to unify the politically divided country.

A former NBA all-star has been arrested on charges of sexual assault of a child and sex trafficking. Alvin Robertson, who played for the San Antonio Spurs, was taken into custody yesterday in Bentonville, Arkansas. Police say he was one of seven people who kidnapped a 14-year-old girl, forced her into prostitution, and made her dance at a strip club.

President Barack Obama will make an announcement next week on what his spokesman calls the way forward on health care reform. In the meantime, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells CNN's Candy Crowley that she's not worried by apparent changes in how the public views the health care debate.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: When we looked at our polling numbers just from yesterday, we had almost three quarters of Americans who said they need to drop this bill, stop talking about health care, and move on to something else, or they need to start new. Don't the Republicans have a point?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: The point is that we have a responsibility here. And the Republicans have had a field day going out there and misrepresenting what's in the bill. That's what they do.

CROWLEY: It's been a message thing?

PELOSI: That's what they do.

CROWLEY: -- don't understand the bill?

PELOSI: No, there isn't a bill. When we have a bill, which we will in a matter of days, then that is the bill that we can sell. Our bill, the House and the Senate bill, has major differences, which we're hoping now to reconcile. And then when we have a bill -- as I say, you can bake the pie, you can sell the pie, but you have to have a pie to sell. When we do, we will take it out there. I feel very confident about what's in there. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: A reminder for you that you can see Candy's full interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tomorrow morning, Sunday morning, 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley. She'll also interview Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

Los Angeles Police are investigating the death of Marie Osmond's 18-year-old son. Osmond says her family is devastated by the loss, and is asking for privacy to deal with this tragedy. There are unconfirmed reports that the teenager killed himself. He had reportedly been battling depression.

This is the question at the center of our past week of special coverage: do you think the government is broken? In a recent CNN/Opinion Research poll, 81 percent said yes, but it can be fixed; five percent said yes, but it cannot be fixed; 14 percent said it's not broken at all.

We're posing the same question this hour to six retiring congressmen. And these departing lawmakers say our government needs to be repaired from both the inside and the outside.


REP. BRIAN BAIRD (D), WASHINGTON: If we're calling on the Congress to be more functional, we need the public to be more functional. When people believe that the best way to conduct themselves at town halls or in blogs is to just get up and shout someone down, instead of having a reasonable discussion -- I've had 300 town halls and many of them were very, very good productive discussions.

But when you read the kind of stuff that is increasingly on the blogs and the Internet, et cetera, it's just become a free firestorm. It's who can say the nastiest, meanest, most obscene things they possibly can, and not give fair due to discussions and facts. We have to somehow address that, and encourage people to say, it's one thing to say I profoundly disagree with this person's position. Here is why. Here's an alternative, that's another thing to calling someone a list of names that I can't repeat or you would get a 500,000 dollar fine.

LEMON: I'll let you make the point, then one quick answer. I'll ask you a couple -- this will be the bonus round. You make your point and then I want a quick --

REP. DENNIS MOORE (D), KANSAS: All right. I think the people out in the country expect us to be civil and respectful, and try to work together to get things accomplished for our country and for our people. They understand -- I understand -- all of us understand we can have some honest differences. But still, we should try to be civil and respectful and work together.

LEMON: Listen, I'm going to ask you -- a show of hands, is government broken? If you believe it is, raise your hands. If you believe --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about fractured?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it need a repair job?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It needs reform here, in terms of how people get here.

BAIRD: There need to be process reforms. Look, both sides -- Both sides have brought bills up with less than 24 hours to read, thousand pages bill. Both sides have done it. Both sides bring up rules in the House where the other side gets no amendment. No amendment on health care bills. Our side did it on the health care vote. There was one amendment, no Republican amendments. That was wrong. The Republicans did the same thing to us on the Medicare Prescription Drug bill. That was wrong. Those procedure reforms have to happen.

REP. BART GORDON (D), TENNESSEE: I think the consensus would be that Congress is not broken, but it's not working as well as it should. I don't think you could get one reason for that. We would have a variety of reasons and a variety of different kinds of cures. The public deserves better.

LEMON: What do you think the main reason is? Partisanship? What's the main reason? You said the government is fractured and in need of reform? Right?

REP. VERNON EHLERS (R), MICHIGAN: Basically, we disagree with each other a lot. And I think that's healthy.

LEMON: So what --

EHLERS: But from the outside, some people interpret that as the constant fighting, a lack of civility and so forth. It isn't. We get along pretty well with our colleagues, no matter which party.

LEMON: That's the way the government was set up.

EHLERS: We are here to debate with each other. We are here to present our own point of view as strongly as we can, and doing the best job of representing our people. That may look to some people like an argument or a fight or something. It isn't. We're here to represent our people.

REP. JOHN SHADEGG (R), ARIZONA: I think the intense concentration of power here has caused partisanship to get worse. And I think Brian's right, what that means is there are all kinds of procedural uses, where the minority -- the minority rights aren't honored. It has been done by Republicans to Democrats, Democrats to Republicans. It leads to an interaction, to us not being able to get the work done. And it focuses on the divide, rather than the points where we can come together.

LEMON: If I can get the one -- if you can say health care, if you can say partisanship, or whatever you think it is, not listening -- what do you think the biggest problem is with government now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It needs to be reformed to where it's accountable to the people. Too much is hidden.


EHLERS: I would say one of our biggest problems is that people -- a good many people want more from the government than they give to the government. And so they're very unhappy with us. They want more health care. They want more benefits of some sort.

LEMON: Lower expectations from what can be achieved?

REP. JOHN TANNER (D), TENNESSEE: The gerrymandering of the districts and how members are elected.

REP. BART GORDON (D), TENNESSEE: I think the process that has developed, where Democrats and Republicans can't sit together and try to work out compromise, and try to find common really solutions to the problems facing up. Again, a lot of that starts with John's premise, that too many come with a partisan background.

MOORE: People look at what Congress is doing as far as spending goes, and it's out of control spending. I belong -- a couple of us belong to a group called the Blue Dog Coalition. We believe most -- we should be living -- our country should be living within a budget like most American families do. And I think individually, most members of Congress feel that way as well.

BAIRD: We have to conduct ourselves with honesty and integrity. And that means telling the truth, even if it is difficult, and even if it costs us our election. We also need to reform campaign financing.

LEMON: So you are saying many people in Congress don't tell the truth?

BAIRD: Well, I think the pressure to pander to one side or the other, typically your own side, even if you know that the math isn't, or the reality is the other side has some good points -- we've got to say to people hard truths, especially now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pressure to get reelected at any price.


LEMON: Well, we talked for about 30 minutes. So much of that conversation, we will have it for you on CNN this weekend, hopefully. We will play it for you. So, listen, those six aren't the only ones leaving their seats after this term. As of now in the House, 33 seats will be open in November, left by 14 Democrats and 19 Republicans. In the Senate, five Democrats and six Republicans have already said they won't seek re-election. Stay tuned.

So, remember the director of "Training Day," Antoine Fuqua? He is at it again with a new movie, "Brooklyn's Finest," in theaters soon. I have seen it. It is good. My conversation with the man behind the film in a few moments.


LEMON: OK. So it is time to talk what matters. This is our partnership with "Essence Magazine." Another story that you really should pay attention to, Antoine Fuqua, the director of "Training Day," is at it again. His latest cop saga is called "Brooklyn's Finest." It is in theaters March 5th. A quick preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it is all the same to you, I have seven days. I am no one's teacher. I am not a role model.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God knows you are not, Eddie. But your name came up in a computer, pal. This thing has been kicked out by two months, and all eyes are on it. Do the best you can, OK?

Come on, Dugan, don't you want to do something useful with your last two minutes on the job?


LEMON: Director Antoine Fuqua joins us now live from Los Angeles tonight. Hey, good to see you.


LEMON: I sent you an e-mail saying, man, you stuck your foot in this, both of them. This is really good. I am a pretty tough critic when it comes to movies, the big budget, even all the high-tech, sci- fi, I'm not interested. But this one is amazing, because it is a cop movie, but it is about the characters. It's about the characters.

FUQUA: Absolutely. Yeah, it is about the characters. It's about the pressure that these men are under. New York police officers are under a great deal of pressure. And it is -- some of the choices they make are because of that pressure, you know, economic pressure, the fact that they make, you know, 30,000 to 60,000 a year. And $30,000 is starting, and you can't make a living on that, you know.

LEMON: And so, I have to ask you -- because you are saying this in the movie, making it clear. But it takes you through -- it's a great story. The writing is great. The character development is great. The cinematography is great. So what are you trying to say when it comes to police? Are you saying that the police officers, they are good guys -- most of them are good guys, but they could be better if they were paid more, if they were respected more, if they had better training? Is there a message to the film?

FUQUA: Absolutely. I am saying that most guys are good guys, and they, you know, set out to do the right thing. But when you are making no money, when you have a 45,000 roughly police officers in New York City, and you have about 150 psyche doctors -- that is the size of a military, bigger than most countries. So how do you make sure that everybody is psychologically where they are supposed to be, after witnessing the worst of mankind daily? It is a lot of pressure. It is the -- ultimately, the results we see in the news, when an officer, you know, shoots someone in the subway or shoots a kid 40-something times -- the message is, what's happening with our officers? You know, what are the problems that they are facing to make them make that decision?

LEMON: As we are looking at this movie, let's talk about some of the people who are in it: Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawk, Richard Gere, Wesley Snipes. And as I'm watching this movie, Mr. Fuqua, I'm wondering, they could all be best actors, because it is really that good. What did you -- how did you assemble this group of men, very high-powered actors and tough to get?

FUQUA: Yeah, I did a lot of begging, Don. You know.

LEMON: You are not too proud to beg?

FUQUA: Not too -- I mean, I wanted to work with each one of these guys, trying to get their schedules to line up, trying to get them all to say yes. I did this film obviously for a price, shot all of it in Brooklyn. So I got lucky, man. That is all I can say.

LEMON: These guys are -- we talked a little bit about this. When you think about especially American actors, right, we see what happened -- these guys are macho guys, which you don't see from American actors anymore, this sort of Marlboro Man type actors. There are a few there in this movie. But we talked about sort of the dearth of that. I'm wondering if this film helps it along, helps us find the sort of all-American, rough guy, John Wayne type?

FUQUA: Absolutely. I am always in search of -- the films I grow up watching in the '70s are the Westerns, or the films from the '40s, the "Public Enemies" and the original "Scarface." Who are the John Waynes today? Who are the Clint Eastwoods today? Steve McQueen's trying to find those men, those American men to put in our films.

LEMON: We don't have them, do we?

FUQUA: It is far and in between. Far and in between. We have a handful of them. We know who they are. And if they are not available, you know, you -- you have a hard time casting your film.

LEMON: Very interesting talk with Antoine Fuqua. March 5th, "Brooklyn's Finest" opens. And it is reminds me of a great show that just happens to be on our sister network, TNT. It's called "Southland." Make sure you tune in. I think the new episodes run on March 2nd.

So listen, just some of your feedback real quickly.

"Don Lemon just said Ginormous," I love it. I realize I said that and we have a international audience who may not get that sort of thing. Sorry about that.

"How come I've heard no mention at all about Marie Osmond's son?" You were watching the wrong network. We've done it about six, seven times since I've been on the air tonight.

There are many, many more. Sorry I couldn't get to them because of the breaking news, get to a lot of them, but we promise to have more for you. I'm Don Lemon at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. See you back here tomorrow night, 6:00 -- 7:00 pm Eastern. Have a great night.