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Hundreds Dead in Brazil Fire; Dozens Killed in Egypt Riots; Screen Actors Guild Awards Tonight

Aired January 27, 2013 - 18:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Top of the hour. I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for joining us.

Survivors of a nightclub fire in Brazil are describing a nightmare scene. Bodies all over the ground. Firefighters trying to smash down the walls. Terrified people being trampled. So many people dead.

This nightclub was way overcrowded with dangerous pyrotechnics show going on inside.

Straight now to CNN's Rafael Romo. He's been watching today as the horrible death toll has been rising.

Rafael, I want you to give us an update to casualty count and what happened down there in Brazil.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Well, the latest casualty count that we have is 233. But this is way too preliminary yet. Authorities are still going over the scene and trying to find out what happened there. Some of the scenes that we have received here at CNN world headquarters are just very, very sad with family members trying to find out about what happened to their family members.

And this was primarily a crowd of very young people celebrating with what would be one last chance. Remember, that part of the world, it is summer, and so in Brazil, this is the end of the summer holiday season and that's what these people are doing there.

LEMON: So is it common for a nightclub to be packed so far over capacity. I mean, don't police try to keep that from happening, Rafael?

ROMO: I wouldn't call it common but it's not unheard of. And especially given the circumstances that people are going back to school tomorrow and going back to work tomorrow, and this was the place and town to be last night for all of these young people. And they tell us that the place was built for about a thousand people. It was overcrowded. As many as 2,000 people there, so this complicated the tragedy.

LEMON: Local media reporting that security guards were trying to stop people from leaving. What do you know about that?

ROMO: That's exactly right. That's also what firefighters told us. Apparently, firefighters didn't realize -- or security guards didn't realize what the problem was, that there was a fire and they thought people were trying to leave without paying and they blocked the exits. So, they wouldn't let people go.


ROMO: That, as you can imagine, complicated the situation.

LEMON: You mention that they were trying to identify the victims and trying to contact their family members. How were they doing this? I mean, these pictures look like complete chaos. They're seen as trying to smash down the walls. How are they doing now?

ROMO: The reality is that the tragedy has overwhelmed the systems there in Santa Maria and southern Brazil, and bodies aren't being taken to a morgue. They're being taken to a nearby gym and that's where families are trying to go and authorities are trying to positively identify the bodies. So far, 185 positively identified. But I said before, 232 bodies.

LEMON: Remember the Argentina club fire back in 2004? And I'm asking that because I'm wondering about any sort of precedent. I know this early but will Brazilian authorities -- how will they handle this tragedy? Will someone be held liable for any of these deaths?

ROMO: Eventually, there will be somebody but what's at stake for Brazil here is the country is trying to organize the World Cup in 2014 and something like this tells you a lot about failures in security systems and also the country's preparedness to hold big events. Also, the Summer Olympics are going to be held there in 2016.

So there's going to be a lot of questions as to how ready is Brazil to host these international events.

LEMON: Thank you, Rafael.

More tragedy to tell you about in the news right now, because we're also keeping a close eye on Egypt tonight where weekend riots are blamed for the deaths of nearly 40 people and hundreds of injured. This isn't general anti-government anger that's been boiling in Cairo. People this weekend are furious about something more specific.

And here's CNN's Reza Sayah.


REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, wagging his finger, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy first delivered a stern warning to Egyptians calling on the country to end the violence and then he took his most aggressive action yet against protesters, declaring emergency ruling curfews for three cities, the city of Port Said, Ismailia and Suez.

The president making announcement in late-night televised address after another day of violent protests throughout Egypt. The protest turning violent in the city of Port Said for the second day. These anti-government protests, these violent demonstrations have been going on since Friday, the two-year anniversary of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.

Now, the president saying enough is enough, saying he had no choice but to get tough.

PRES. MOHAMED MORSY, EGYPT (through translator): The civilians like to disturb the security of this nation. We will deal with them severely. There will no repeat and everyone should know. That's the nation's institution is capable to protect this nation and these people and these institutions.

And I did confirm earlier as you all know that I am against any exceptional -- but if I was pushed, if I was pushed, I will act, and now I am acting to save bloodshed and for the security against doers who are causing riots outside the law and to save the civilians.

SAYAH: The president says the emergency rule and the curfews will last for 30 days. During this time, police will have extended powers. People will not have as many rights. They probably won't be able to protest as freely if at all.

Remember, Egypt is a nation lived under emergency rule for more than 40 years. It's something that they despise. This time, the emergency rule is limited to only three cities. But the question is how will this country, how will the people of Egypt, people who've lost their fear to protests, react? Will they heed the president's call or will things escalate?

We're going to find out in the coming days -- Don.


LEMON: All right, Reza. Thank you very much.

An American pastor reportedly faces eight years in an Iranian prison after being tried on charges linked to his Christian beliefs. Pastor Saeed Abedini was born in Iran and later moved to Idaho with his wife and children. The U.S. Religious Association says the charges stemmed from the pastor's conversion to Christianity and his work with churches and homes in Iran. The U.S. State Department is calling for his immediate release.

Casey Anthony wants to start over financially. Anthony filed for bankruptcy in Tampa Friday after an appeals court threw out two of her convictions for lying police. Court documents show Anthony claims she has no income and almost $800,000 in debt, mostly legal fees. She also is fighting several civil lawsuits.

In a dramatic 2011 trial, Anthony was acquitted of all charged linked to the death of her daughter Caylee.

Attention, shoppers. A brand-new credit card charge kicks in today. Stores in 40 states can charge you a check out fee worth up to 3 percent of your total purchase. This fee stems from a legal settlement that allows stores to pass along processing fees charged by credit card companies. Many retailers strongly oppose the credit fee. You can avoid the fee by using your debit card instead or, here's an idea: you can pay cash.

Actor Burt Reynolds is feeling better after his flu scare landed him in intensive care. His spokesman says Reynolds will probably be released from a Florida hospital tomorrow. The 76-year-old actor is known for his roles in "Smokey and the Bandit" and "Deliverance." He was nominated for an Academy Award in 1988 for his roles in "Boogie Night."

Forget the gossip columns and tabloids. Tonight, actors really learn what they think of each other at the SAG Awards. Live pictures right now. Look at the red carpet. Red carpet outside L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium.

The Screen Actors Guild Awards are only for actors. No best director, no best screenplay. It's all about the talent you see in front of the camera.

"Showbiz Tonight's" A.J. Hammer joins me now live from the SAG Awards with the preview.

And, oh, you're staying hydrated, right, A.J.? Staying chilling out on the red carpet?

A.J. HAMMER, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: Well, here's the thing about that, Don. I have a great spot here in the red carpet right before all of the stars have to walk into the Shrine Auditorium but I may have picked the wrong end because at the other end where my colleague Nischelle Turner will be interviewing all of the big stars before they can walk the carpet. I believe that's where they're serving the champagne. So, I guess they serve the champagne down there, they rehydrate when they get down here. And that's why the water is over here.

But, yes, this is about a lot of familiar faces tonight, which is one of the reasons this is an important award show to watch if you love award shows but maybe you don't like sifting through all of the producers and writers, and directors whose names and faces you may not know. Tonight, it's all stars. There are some 100,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild who vote on the award winners tonight.

And it's a real celebration and that means a big deal for the actors who do walk away with these awards because they're winning according to what their peers think. And really, getting validation of your peers is a pretty huge thing in this industry, in Hollywood, and I think there will be a lot of smiles on the carpet from one phase to another when this award show is over tonight.

And it also honors ensembles because we know, Don, a lot of individual actors get a lot of individual attention in the tabloids or in entertainment coverage. But here tonight, they're honoring acting as an ensemble craft. So, you get to see the entire show not as a best show being awarded but as a group of actors doing what they do best.

LEMON: A.J. Hammer passing off his gin or vodka as Fiji water. Thank you, A.J. Make sure you join A.J. --

HAMMER: Listen. I'm better behaved than that.

LEMON: Make sure you A.J., along with Nischelle Turner about 20 minutes for CNN special pre-show coverage of the SAG Awards. See the latest fashion and learn about the tight races before the big event. Red carpet begins at 6:30 Eastern, right here on CNN, of course.

Stop being stupid. That's the message from one top Republican to his own party. Will this tough love help or hurt the GOP? Well, we will talk about that straight ahead.


LEMON: President Obama says he's going to push for restrictions on certain kinds of firearms but he insists he's not going to ignore the concerns of gun owners. In an interview with "The New Republic" magazine, Mr. Obama was asked if he had ever fired a gun, he said, "Up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time and I have a profound respect for traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations and I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake."

Meantime, the primary Senate sponsor of new gun restrictions says the NRA remains the biggest obstacle to passing a ban on assault-style rifles. Senator Dianne Feinstein spoke with our Candy Crowley on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION".


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: The NRA is venal. They come after you. They put together large amounts of money down to defeat you. They did this in '93 and they intend to continue it.


LEMON: Feinstein says she -- her proposal faces what she called an uphill fight. But she said she's confident she can get it to the Senate floor for a vote.

So let's talk more now with CNN contributors L.Z. Granderson and Ana Navarro. L.Z. is a senior writer at ESPN and Ana is a Republican strategist.

Hello to you. Thank you, guys. Good to see you. We haven't spoken in quite a while.


LEMON: The president is scheduled to make a speech this week on immigration reform and Republican Congressman Paul Ryan says he thinks this is one issue where the two parties can make a deal. Here's what he said this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: So, I think there are Republicans and Democrats -- many of us are talking to each other -- that can come together with a good solution to make sure that this problem is fixed once and for all, and I think those Rubio principles do a really good job of adhering to the founding principles, respecting the rule of law and respecting those who came here for a better life.


LEMON: Is this an idea whose time has come?

NAVARRO: I absolutely think so. Listen I think it's been played strategically in a brilliant manner. Marco Rubio, who was part of the "gang of six" in the Senate made of John McCain, of Lindsey Graham, of Marco Rubio on the Republican side, and of Bob Menendez, Schumer and Durbin on the Democrat side, they've been working on this from day one after the election. I think they're ready to come out with something.

I think you're going to see that Marco Rubio has laid a lot of the groundwork by selling these principles. He's gotten great endorsement and support from some of the most right-winged pundit and influence makers. He's gotten maneuverability for this idea. And now, it's time to act upon it and grow it from there.

But it is basically the only thing happening in Congress today where there is a bipartisan movement on both -- on both -- in both chambers and both sides of the aisle.

LEMON: But, Ana, election has been a long time ago and I've been hearing this about Marco Rubio and the "gang of six". So, why wait? Why haven't we heard from them? Why are they waiting on a president?

NAVARRO: Because timing is everything.

But you know what, Don Lemon? If I were you, I wouldn't put money on them waiting on the president. The president's going to speak on Tuesday.

I wouldn't be surprised if these senators who are tremendously strategic and know how to play the political game and will defend third bipartisan process, I wouldn't be surprised if they preempt the president, maybe do it tomorrow, maybe do it before the president does on Tuesday.

I wouldn't -- these are not folks that wait on the president. These folks act.

LEMON: So you think they may come out on Monday. Do you know something we don't?

NAVARRO: Oh, I know a lot of things you don't.

LEMON: We'll see. Maybe Ana does.

L.Z., do the Republicans need an immigration deal given their showing in the November elections? L.Z. GRANDERSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR. First of all I want to touch upon some revisionist history that my friend Ana has done. The president has already spoken on this. He did that two years ago, three years ago in 2010. We voted on the DREAM Act. The truth of the matter is he had mostly Republicans and about five Democrats who decided not to vote in support of the DREAM Act.

But this is not something the president has not been working on. He actually gave us his outline in 2010 in terms of working towards immigration.

As far as the new found religion, I've not given them props. This is actually not new for them either. You know, John McCain before he was against the DREAM Act, actually was a co-author, a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act. He was all about politics.

I would agree with Ana, timing is everything. And now, after they got their butt kicked, they want go ahead and follow through what they started years and years ago. Unfortunately, the Latino population has been a pawn in a big political game. But this is what it means to be an American. If you want to be here, you're part of the pawn, you're part of the game.

LEMON: OK. Speaking of the GOP, I want you to listen to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. He's talking to his fellow Republicans.


GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: We must not be part of the party that simply protects the well-off so they can keep their toys. We must reject identity politics. We've got to stop being the stupid party. And I'm serious. It's time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults.


LEMON: He's not the only one giving that sentiment. Paul Ryan gave a similar sentiment this morning on "Meet the Press."

Ana, is this what -- is this what your party needs? Tough love?

NAVARRO: Yes. We need to not sugarcoat it. We need to learn the lessons of the last election.

I think Governor Jindal is just correct. I think Paul Ryan is right. I was at the Republican retreat about 10 days ago of the House members and I can tell you that we heard a lot of this.

And there is an acknowledgement within the Republican Party that we have to reboot. That we cannot -- you know, look, the best part of what happened in this election is that we learned that you can't just do it with white men, that attracting Latinos, attracting women is not an option. And I think that's why this immigration thing, that's why the election has been such a game-changer for the immigration issue because Republicans know that it's a huge challenge, but it is also a great opportunity to rebuild some bridges. LEMON: L.Z.?

GRANDERSON: You know, I listened to the governor's speech and it was fairly boring to me. I thought it was vacuous, I thought it was empty. I thought it was -- it sounded like If you heard the applause when he was introduced versus the applause when he talked about the stupid party, it was spatter, it was like clap, clap, clap.

He doesn't have everybody on board yet. I don't think he's the person to deliver that message. And as far as, you know, what the results of 2012 and what the Republican Party needs do, they don't need to reboot. They just need to go back to what they used to be, which is about conservative, political -- not conservative social issues but economic issues. Get back to that.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, guys.

There is this -- the common wisdom is that you can't say we need to bring more people in. What you need to say is we need to do the right thing by people and by doing that, we will bring more people in.

Thank you, Ana. Thank you, L.Z. Appreciate it.

If you live in the Northeast or the Midwest, you are most likely dealing with this -- snow, ice, and a varying degree of misery for millions as an arctic blast move east and the stars are shining in Los Angeles. No arctic blast there, just some hot actors. And there's one (INAUDIBLE).

Actors Guild Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, we're live in the red carpet as the stars arrived. CNN's special coverage coming up at the bottom of the hour.


LEMON: Much of the Midwest still in the deep freeze this evening. The good news for those folks, though, the system is moving toward the Northeast. Bad news for them.

Meteorologist Tom Sater fills us in.


TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Don, we've got just about everything going on right now. The good news is, this is all preceding a warm-up and that's ultimately what we all want. The problem is the warm air moving in is riding up and over the colder air so we've had this transition where we've got freezing rain, this ice, this kind of a wintry mix changing over to rainfall.

Now, we still have some sleet falling down in the Chicago area. It's already changed to snow in the Minneapolis area. But eventually as the warm air moves in, it changes over to rainfall. And that's eventually what we're going to see.

I think the worst icing today was in parts of northern Missouri, central and eastern Iowa, in fact, we can even see some of the reports you see here. But eventually, it is all changing to rainfall as the warm air kind of heads out. Now, it's going to be a nuisance, and that means for rush hour tomorrow morning in parts of Washington, D.C., as we watch the front beginning Monday, notice the Washington, D.C. area may be a wintry mix but light accumulations. More of a nuisance as the bridge overpasses things of that nature.

And these will change over to rain, but then it will be Baltimore, Philadelphia, and maybe moving into the New York City around late morning, possibly just before the noon hour. But eventually that changes over too. Accumulations should be light, and that's the good news. Then we'll all eventually warm up.

So, as we watch the systems continue to move up in Boston, maybe some light snow before their changeover as well.

Here are the watches and warnings. Still winter storm warnings in effect in areas of around the Twin Cities into parts of Wisconsin. We have freezing rain advisory in parts of the southwest Virginia, the Appalachian chain. And western Maryland, you can see an inch of now, on top of a quarter inch of ice that is not going to be the situation as mentioned for D.C. and Baltimore northward.

The other event we're watching is Tuesday. Tuesday night into Wednesday, this could be violent. This is more of a springtime event. We have our severe weather where the possibility of tornadoes will exist. And then that moves as you see eastward, from southern areas of Mississippi, through Alabama, Georgia, all the way up into areas of eastern Pennsylvania.

So this is the next story we'll be watching that comes along with this warm-up, which we all want. We could do without the severe weather and the icy mess tonight.


LEMON: Thank you, Tom.

Actors honoring actors. I'm talking about the SAG Awards. Excuse me, they're happening tonight and as we speak the stars are arriving and strolling down the red carpet. Our special coverage of the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards starts in just moments here on CNN. We'll be back in one hour with live news coverage.