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Encore: Drug Violence in Mexico

Aired March 28, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, kidnapping, mayhem, murder in Mexico -- 5,300 deaths and counting. Drugs are fueling brutality that now threatens the U.S. Secretary of State Clinton is there, as two countries crack down on the cartels.

Anderson Cooper will report from the border on the war next door.

Plus, can you spare 60 minutes of your life to save the planet?

One billion people are being asked to make that small sacrifice to solve a big problem. Edward Norton is here for Earth Hour. Sign up, turn out, take action now, on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin tonight with the drama in Mexico. The situation there is scary, dangerous and deadly -- and getting worse.

Anderson Cooper has gone to the border in El Paso, Texas, reporting on the war next door. And El Paso borders on -- on Juarez, Texas -- Anderson, the U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder, called Mexico's drug cartels "a national security threat."

Do you agree with that, from what you've learned today?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, certainly you know, we've been working on this now for a couple weeks. You know, the Justice Department says that Mexican drug cartels are operating in some 230 cities in the United States, all the way up to Anchorage, Alaska; Atlanta, Georgia; all across the map. They now say it's now the largest organized crime threat in the United States.

If you're talking about cocaine, marijuana, heroin or methamphetamine, it's -- all of it is coming mainly from -- up from Mexico. So it's certainly a major concern. We're hearing from the Obama administration a change in the language that they are using. They are certainly talking about it as a homeland security issue and one that they're trying to take steps to -- to help fix.

KING: But the cartel needs customers, doesn't it?

So that means hundreds of thousands of Americans are buying.

COOPER: That -- you're right. If anyone is buying marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine or heroin in the United States, they are fuelling this drug war down in Mexico. There's no doubt about that.

And the violence, Larry -- the level of violence just across the border from me in Juarez, Mexico is at a level we haven't seen in years. For two years now, the Mexican government has deployed the military and declared war on drug cartels in Mexico. And each year the murder rate -- the drug-related homicide rate has more than doubled -- 6,500 people killed last year.

And, Larry, it's not just the number of people getting killed, it's the way they're getting killed. We're seeing drug cartels beheading people like we've seen in Iraq. We're seeing very public executions -- videotaped executions that are then sent out. It's about sowing terror. And there's a lot of terror right now in Mexico.

KING: We've got an excerpt, Anderson, of Michael Ware's reporting on Mexico's drug cartel violence. It's rather compelling.

Let's take a look.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the cartel war in Mexico -- a conflict raging on America's doorstep -- a conflict in which Juarez police officers like this one, under attack from a drug gang, are fighting for their lives while the drug cartels are battling throughout the city for control of a lucrative drug route into the United States. Sixteen hundred people killed in this city last year. That's three times more than the most murderous city in America. And 50 of them were police officers.

This year, in just two months, 400 more already murdered. We saw the most recent victims laying in the city's morgue, overflowing with bodies -- many unidentified cartel members destined for mass graves. They'd been brutally killed by rivals -- beheaded, tortured, strafed with bullets.


KING: Anderson Cooper remains with us in El Paso.

Joining us now in New York is Michael Ware, CNN correspondent. He just returned from reporting on the situation.

You have covered violence, if that's the correct term, all over the world.

How does this compare?

WARE: Well, violence, frankly, Larry, is violence. I mean this is barbarous, what's going on. I mean there is literally butchering happening. And it's capturing the entire communities that are involved here. And that's the real measure, because this so-called drug war primarily is being fought between the cartels. But it's also targeting police officers, government officials. And, invariably, the innocents are so often caught in the middle.

So what's at stake here is the hearts and minds of the population. If you can secure the people, for example, of this city of Juarez, then they will be able to operate their lives and to help the authorities target the cartel so much better. But for now, the way this war is being fought, it can't be won. So the cartels will remain in control of those streets -- Larry.

KING: Michael, what are they fighting about?

WARE: They're fighting about turf, power and drug routes. Now, in the last two years, the president of Mexico -- within two weeks of him coming into office in 2006, he launched a massive offensive against the cartels. Now, he can't trust the local police because they're either terrified or corrupt. He can't trust his federal police because they're either terrified or they're corrupt.

So he had to turn to the military.

He has more than 45,000 Mexican soldiers out fighting in Mexico to target the cartels. But the military's abilities are extremely limited.

So it's very hard to see how this dynamic is going to change. The best that they can hope for, according to the mayor of Juarez itself, which right now is the epicenter of the drug war, he said is, we can't beat them. All we can hope is that they pack up and move somewhere else. That's not the sound of a war that's going to end anytime soon, mate.

KING: Speaking of the mayor, Michael, joining us on the phone is Jose Reyes Ferriz. He is the mayor of Juarez.

Do you see any hope, Mayor?

MAYOR JOSE REYES FERRIZ, JUAREZ, MEXICO: Well, there is. And we're seeing it right now. We -- a couple weeks ago, the federal government announced 10,000 soldiers coming into our city of Juarez. And within the last week, we have seen a tremendous change in the community.

We saw the crime rate, especially the homicide rate, which, during the month of February was 10 killings a day in the City of Juarez, go down to one killing a day when the announcement was made and actually go down to three killings in a week since the army took over the police department. So we have seen a tremendous change that for the federal government is a test.

What they're doing in Juarez is the first time it's ever been done in any city in the country. And what's going to happen here, we're very sure it's going to be replicated in other problem areas in the country, that will be able to bring the crime rates there down, also.

KING: And, Anderson, you'll be anchoring from there tonight, will you not?

COOPER: Yes. We're right -- right on the border between El Paso and Juarez. Juarez is just over my shoulder there. And we'll be here tonight and tomorrow, as well, Larry.

KING: Thank you.

Anderson Cooper at the top of the hour with "A.C. 360".

We thank Mayor Ferriz.

And we certainly thank Michael Ware.

Next, the toll this has taken on the families -- hear what happened to one man and how the violence has victimized his wife and sister.

That's next.


LOURDES BATISTA, WIFE OF KIDNAP VICTIM: Please let him go. Let him return to his family. He has never done anyone any harm. I beg you with all the strength in my heart to please have mercy.



KING: Think you wouldn't be kidnapped in Mexico?

Think again.

With us now is Lourdes Batista. Her husband, Felix, who, by the way, was a security consultant and a former U.S. Army officer, was abducted while on business there.

His sister, Jackie Batista, joins us.

And his employer, Charlie LeBlanc, of The ASI Group, is here, as well.

And there you see Felix.

Lourdes, what happened?

Where was he?

What happened?

L. BATISTA: My husband was in Saltillo, Mexico. And he had been there a few days. It was December 10th. He was having a late lunch with some businessmen -- local businessmen. He had been asked to go there to give presentations on anti-kidnapping and safety -- personal safety and security to the businessmen and some local officials.

At the time, he was just having a late lunch. And he was at a restaurant. He received a number of calls. He gave his effects to someone there that he was with. I've been told this, the recount. And he went outside. A vehicle came up and he went...

KING: They grabbed him?

L. BATISTA: Yes. He disappeared. KING: Jackie, it's a little...

L. BATISTA: He was abducted.

KING: Jackie, a little ironic that he was a consultant about kidnapping and he gets kidnapped.

JACKIE BATISTA, SISTER OF KIDNAP VICTIM: Right. He's an anti- kidnapping expert who has been doing this type of work for the past 20 years. There's never been an issue. There's never been any type of assault or any type of threat. Therefore, we were confident that this was just another business trip.

So to receive that call on the night of December 10th was an extreme horrific phone call to receive. We -- we actually haven't heard anything. We don't know what's happened to him. And basically, we're here tonight with you to really just get some answers. Let's find out what's happened to Felix Batista.

Where is he?

KING: Well, let's hope...

J. BATISTA: And can anybody give us any information?

KING: Charlie LeBlanc is the president of The ASI Group, a leading provider of global risk management services. Felix Batista works for your company as a crisis responder.

What failed here, Charles?

CHARLIE LEBLANC, PRESIDENT, THE ASI GROUP: I don't think anything failed here, Larry. I think, you know, this is just a really unfortunate situation in a country where -- where the threats have risen, as we heard with, you know, with Anderson's report and Michael's report. You know, the savagery and the -- and the escalation of crime in this area, I think, has really caught a lot of people by surprise.

KING: Why do you think Felix was targeted?

LEBLANC: I think a lot of what Felix was trying to do was, you know, was to -- was to help local businessmen and not become -- becoming targets for kidnapping. I think that -- you know, that may have been -- been a threat to the cartels. And, you know, that's -- that's a speculation.

But, you know, other than that, we could see, really, no other reason why they would target him specifically.

KING: Lourdes, we have a wide viewing audience and it's all over the world -- and certainly in Mexico.

Where can people contact you if they have any information about your husband? L. BATISTA: Well, we created a Web site. It's And right now, we have a petition online. And that petition is about Felix, but it speaks for many. It speaks for the many that are missing in Mexico, as well -- the families that are suffering. Because I learned that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama were going to be visiting Mexico. And our family brainstormed this petition.

And we're hoping and we're pleading for help. And maybe our voices united will be heard, because this is a topic of great importance.

KING: Jackie, what's the petition saying?

What's it asking for?

J. BATISTA: Well, the petition is called "Felix Batista

100 Days of Silence" because his -- today is day 106 of his abduction. And on the 100th day, it's kind of pivotal to get information. We felt it's just been really a long time since we really have known anything or heard anything about his whereabouts.

So we started the petition to really hone in on the visit with Hillary Clinton to Mexico -- and now with Obama visiting Mexico on April 15th. And the -- and the petition is to discuss the security measures that are taken when Americans travel abroad, the security measures for the Mexican people, because they're in danger, too. And to really bring up to the plate, let's talk about the case of Felix Batista.

What's happened?

Here you have a U.S. -- American citizen and we don't know where -- what's happened to him. And...

KING: And so we're going to do more on this.

We thank you both -- all of you very much.

And let's hope maybe that no news, in this particular case, is, at this point, good news.

Let's hope we learn some more information soon.

You can go to our blog and see what everybody's talking about tonight -- We'll share your comments later in the show.

Back in 60 seconds with more on danger in Mexico.


KING: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Mexico tonight, where there was some positive news today on the war against the drug cartels. Take a look.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Mexico City, the Mexican government announces a high profile arrest -- the kingpin who allegedly runs a drug cartel in Monterrey, where Clinton is to visit Thursday -- a rare victory in a violent drug war that's bleeding over the U.S. border.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The Obama administration, working closely with Congress, intends to provide more than $80 million in urgently need funding for Blackhawk helicopters for Mexican law enforcement. These aircraft will help Mexican police respond aggressively and successfully to the threats coming from the cartels.

DOUGHERTY: Her visit is a show of solidarity with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who has staked his presidency on battling drug cartels. But the criminals, Clinton says, are outgunning his law enforcement.

Clinton agrees with Calderon that U.S. guns, money laundering and drug use are fueling the violence, which is why the Obama administration will push hard to get more equipment and more law enforcement to the border.


KING: You heard what the secretary of State had to say.

Is it enough to end the violence?

Our next guests may have some ideas about that.

Stay with us.


KING: We welcome now three experts on this tough topic.

They are Edward James Olmos, the Emmy-winning and Oscar nominated actor and social activist, particularly involved with the Latino community.

In Denver, is Tom Tancredo, former United States representative and Republican of Colorado, former chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus.

And here in Los Angeles is Tom Quinones. He's a reporter with the "Los Angeles Times." He's done extensive writing on immigration issues and what he calls the "criminal capitalist insurgency" in Mexico.

Before we meet them, President Obama was asked about the drug cartel violence along the U.S./Mexican border and his new initiatives for combating it in the news conference last night.

Here's a little of what he said.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Calderon has been very courageous in taking on these drug cartels. We've got to also take some steps. Even as he is doing more to deal with the drug cartels sending drugs into the United States, we need to do more to make sure that illegal guns and cash aren't flowing back to these cartels.

That's part of what's financing their operations. That's part of what's arming them. That's what makes them so dangerous. And this is something that we take very seriously and we're going to continue to work on diligently in the months to come.


KING: I apologize. I introduced Mr. Quinones as Tom Quinones. It's Sam Quinones of "The L.A. Times."

What do you make of all this, Eddie?


All right. I think that it's time and I hope that basically that we can turn around and understand this problem, because this is something that's going to keep on haunting us for long period.

KING: Did you see it coming?

OLMOS: Yes. Oh, it was real evident for many, many, many years. The corruption that has been caused by drugs and the planet has been overwhelming. But this is just -- this is going to be a nightmare unless they do some really intense work.

KING: Tom, what do you...

OLMOS: And it's going to be hard, because you're talking about economics. So it's just...

KING: Yes, it's a lot of money.

OLMOS: It's a lot of money.

KING: Tom, what do you make of it?



KING: I know. But I'm talking to Tom.



KING: There is a Tom here.

QUINONES: I'm sorry. You're right.

KING: Tom, go ahead.

TANCREDO: There is a Tom.

Of course, drugs are a problem, undeniably so. But we cannot get caught up in trying to lay the blame on America for this. The issue of drugs, we can argue that. And I'm more than willing to in terms of what we should do about it.

But the real problem is the potential implosion of the country of Mexico, the fact that that will cause an enormous amount of -- of problems on our southern border. We will millions of people -- potentially millions of people, if that happens, coming into the United States as refugees. There are incredible problems that are caused by the border wars that are going on.

And it is a result, frankly, Larry, of the fact that we have not paid attention. We have not secured our borders. And our immigration policy -- we should actually, I think, take this opportunity -- do what Rahm Emanuel says. You know, he says if there's a crisis, take advantage of it.

This is a crisis. It's a crisis on our border and it's a crisis that we can deal with in the United States because our economy is in shambles. We can reduce immigration -- even legal immigration, because we are now importing...

KING: All right...

TANCREDO: ...138,000 people a month while 500,000 Americans are losing their jobs. It makes no sense.

KING: All right...

TANCREDO: We've got two crises. Let's deal with them both.

KING: Sam?

QUINONES: Well, I think both -- both are correct. I mean you've got a real institutional problem in Mexico. You have very weak local institutions that are crumbling. You see this in Juarez. You see this along the border in other places in Mexico.

And you've got this remarkable, insatiable demand, as the secretary today said, for drugs, very liberal gun laws that allow the kind of the drizzling of weapons down into Mexico in a very relentless kind of way.

What you're seeing with this war, I think, is the weaknesses, also, of the relationship between these two countries. We have -- these -- the cartels used to count on two things. One, that the Mexican government would not pay attention to them or not attack them in a serious way. And number two, that the Mexican and U.S. governments would find it impossible to collaborate as they've been -- as (INAUDIBLE) for a long time.

KING: But why are they fighting with each other?

QUINONES: Because what's happened now is you've got a lot of the top capos who are in jail or dead. Some of them -- a good number of them have been extradited by the Calderon government, a major, major achievement. And so you've got a lot of people kind of jockeying for position.

Also, there's been -- these guys are criminals. They don't like each other. They're also -- they're vicious guys. They're fighting for turf. And it used to be that you could, if you were a drug runner, you could pay a tax to move through a certain corridor, say the Arizona corridor or the Sonora-Arizona corridor; Juarez/El Paso.

Now what they're saying is these guys are saying no, this is going to be our territory, nobody moves drugs here -- through here but us. And that's -- that's -- so now they've got to fight for that and they can't afford to lose it.

KING: Tom had an answer.

We'll see if Edward has one in a minute.

A reminder -- Anderson Cooper will be reporting from the Mexican border at the top of the hour.

More with our guests right after this.


KING: CNN, of course, will stay on top of this story.

And Sam, by the way, has lots of articles on Mexico at

Secretary of State Clinton said today in Mexico: "Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians."

What's going to stop it, Edward?

OLMOS: Well, exactly controlling all that. I mean, it's pretty hard to control the border without controlling the border. And it's very difficult to understand how to get past all this, because it's all about economics on both sides. Somebody's making a lot of money. And we have a lot of users in this part of the world.

And I've got to tell you right now, the hardest part to take is the corruption on both sides of the border. For Tom to say that it's not the U.S.' fault, it's where are you j where are you coming from, Tom?

I can only say this, you want to stop this?

Control the border.

Yes, you're going to control immigration. Everybody can turn around and say whatever they want to say about it. You control that border.

And the second thing, the most important thing is that we know who the cartel heads are. And you cannot tell me we can't go get them.

What is wrong...

KING: We meaning the United States?

OLMOS: We -- the United States and Mexico know who the heads are.

KING: Tom, there have to be users in the United States, right?

There have to be customers here?

TANCREDO: Of course. But like I say, if you want to argue the drug issue in general -- and we can, again, it's a huge massive change in public policy. If you want to start talking about legalizing drugs, that's all fine. That's got nothing to do with what we've got to do on that border immediately.

I agree with Mr. Olmos. Control the border. I've said it for like ten year, right? We have to absolutely secure the border. What does that mean? It doesn't mean sending a few policemen down there, sending helicopters to Mexico. It means putting American troops on that border and keeping them there for as long as we need to to secure it.

And if you are so worried about what's going from the United States to Mexico, securing the border should stop that. But I'll tell you, it's not our guns. I know that the president wants to make a war on guns. The fact is it's not American guns that's fueling that horrible, horrible situation down there. The Mexican government won't even tell us what the serial numbers are on the guns that they confiscate, because they know they're not from America.

KING: Sam, would you send an army?

QUINONES: I'm a reporter. I don't send anybody.

KING: What would you advise?

QUINONES: I would advise that this is a bilateral issue. And the guns from the United States are most definitely the problem. The --

TANCREDO: Yes, always America.

QUINONES: -- in Mexico are also the problem. This is a bilateral issue. You cannot say one side is more at fault. There is -- the way this --

KING: We don't have people running around killing people or hanging them.

OLMOS: We do. We do have people running around killing people.

KING: Who?

OLMOS: Isn't that a big article. You guys pointed it out. There are kids right now under the age of 18 who are being hit men for these cartels in the United States.

KING: American kids?

OLMOS: Yes. It's a big issue.

QUINONES: In my view, that is really a minor issue in this.

OLMOS: Until it affects your family.

QUINONES: You don't seat the violence seeping across the border the way people have feared. You do have some hot spots in Phoenix and Tucson and some and big areas, some other areas. But, by and large, that thin blue line of police and criminal justice system is holding in this country. And that's what you see in Mexico that's not working. The reason the Mexican government has to use the army is because it looks out across this vast country of Mexico and it finds no legal allies. The police, the state police, the local police, they're simply not up to the job. This is one of the main issues that Mexico has to realize that they have to deal with.

KING: We're running short on time. But we're going to do a lot more on this. The State Department has issued warnings to people almost not to go. Would you say don't go to Mexico?

OLMOS: I say don't go to Mexico.

KING: Anywhere?

OLMOS: Anywhere.

KING: Resort cities?

OLMOS: Resort cities. Stay out of Mexico. Maybe they'll get the message. As far as I'm concerned, this is a corruption that starts at the top. Tom, you cannot tell me that the United States is not bipartisan in this situation. OK?

TANCREDO: I know that -- I know that you want to make America -- you know --

OLMOS: No, I don't want to make America anything. I love this country, Tom. What I want to make is a point that if we don't get together, what's going to happen to you and to everybody else is you're going to keep on blaming the Latinos for things that are happening in the United States of America. TANCREDO: Ah, Latinos -- hey, you can call it whatever you want --


KING: We'll do more on this. And Sam and I will referee. Activist Ed Norton is here next. We'll talk about Earth Hour. Set your clocks. Stay with us.


KING: Welcome back. You're looking at live pictures of the Time Warner Center, the National Cathedral, the Empire State Building and Capital Records. They are just four of the many locations that are going to go dark for 60 minutes Saturday night as part of a very special event. The distinguished actor Edward Norton, Oscar nominated as well, is here to tell us all about it. He's the United States ambassador for Earth Hour 2009, which could be one of the biggest events on the planet.

How did you get to be the ambassador, Edward?

EDWARD NORTON, ACTOR: I was at a dinner just before the inauguration for the Congressional Conservation Caucus's Foundation. And I happened to be sitting at a table with the president of WWF, the World Wildlife Fund. And he mentioned it to me and I read up on it and was -- thought it was very compelling.

KING: OK, what is Earth Hour?

NORTON: Earth hour is -- it's a global call to unity in action on mitigating climate change, stopping climate change, and committing to carbon -- carbon caps. It's a symbolic event, in the sense that it's -- it's asking people all over the planet to engage in symbolic act of turning off lights for one hour this Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. all over the world.

There are going to be people in over 4,000 city, 82 countries, governments, institutions, organizations and individuals turning off their lights for one hour at 8:30 on Saturday night, the 28th, in solidarity with the agenda of getting more national and international leadership on the issue of climate change.

KING: All 8:30 local time, 8:30 in Moscow, 8:30 in New York, 8:30 in L.A.?

NORTON: In your local time zone at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night, we're asking people to turn off your non-essential lighting for an hour, just to, in essence, vote and create unity in -- en masse around the world, to call attention to the -- to the issue of climate change as a major international priority.

You know, Larry, you know the international conference in Copenhagen is coming up. And really I think a big part of the agenda here is to push for really meaningful national legislation in the U.S. on carbon emissions, and to push the United States to lead at the Copenhagen Convention, in seeking meaningful international agreements on mitigating carbon and greenhouse gases.

KING: Lights have nothing to do with carbon emission, right? This is just a symbolic drawing of attention --

NORTON: No, well, they do. They do. The way -- a lot of people don't know that 40 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from the built environment, the buildings that we work and live in. Certainly, the way we use energy, including our light, affects the output of coal-fired electric generation. Yes, it does.

But you're right, the act of turning out lights for an hour, it's not an act of conservation. It's not meant to say that by doing this, we're going to solve the problem. I think it's a symbolic act of global unity, of highlighting the number of people who do think that this is one of the central issue of our time and motivating our leaders to take purposeful and aggressive action on this issue.

I think -- you know, Larry, if you think about things in our national history, the march on Selma in the Civil Rights Movement. The march itself, unlike some of the boycotts they did, was not an act in itself meant to change the problem. It was a symbolic act. I think this is, for my generation, for many people around the world who care about this issue, I think we're -- we're looking for those kinds of symbolic acts to show how many people are concerned about this.

KING: And, of course, you mean like -- not essential -- you don't want people to turn off their car lights if they're driving down the street?

NORTON: Absolutely not.

KING: Make that clear.

NORTON: -- your non-essential lighting at home. Making the urban landscape go a little darker. The Empire State Building will be turning off. As you said, many, many symbols of --

KING: Great.

NORTON: -- national symbols in the urban setting will be going dark.

KING: Great idea.

NORTON: We're asking individuals to participate as well. You can keep CNN on. You can keep CNN on.

KING: Not sure that's a great -- any rate, there's a link to Earth Hour on our website. Go to for all the information. More with Edward Norton. And how you can do your part in 60 seconds.


KING: We're back with Edward Norton. We're talking about Earth Hour, scheduled for this Saturday from 8:30 to 9:30 local time, wherever you are in the world. Here's a look at last year's event for a little inspiration.




KING: Was last year considered a success, Edward?

NORTON: I think so. But, you know, this year, Larry, it's going to be more than four times the number of participating cities and, we anticipate, individuals. So this year I think should be really exciting.

KING: Alanis Morissette joins us. and we've got your Earth Hour blog comments too, next, Got to it.



KING: In New York, with us is Edward Norton, a US ambassador for Earth Hour, this Saturday night, 8:30 wherever you are. Joining us here in Los Angeles, Alanis Morissette, the Grammy-winning singer/songwriter, environmental and social activist. How'd you get involved in this?

ALANIS MORISSETTE, SINGER: I was asked. And no better way for me to participate than music and activism combining or comedy and activism combining in this particular PSA's case. I just want to inspire as best as I can in people's hearts their own activism on behalf of the planet that sustains and animates us.

KING: Do you think a thing like turning out the lights works?

MORISSETTE: It depends what the intention or the agenda or the goal would be. Really, it's to start the discussion and inspire people to reach out to our government, to encourage people to vote within the Senate, and have the president sign a bill that could really, you know, help the cause and shine a light on a cause that is, you know, I think one of the most important causes. There is no other thing to talk about if there's no planet upon which we can live to do it.

KING: Al Gore (INAUDIBLE) -- another book coming out.

MORISSETTE: Right, how great.

KING: Here's an e-mail question for both of you from Irene in Centerville, Virginia: "beyond lending your celebrity to this cause, what do you do personally to lead greener lives?" Edward?

NORTON: I think a lot of the things that you hear bandied about like changing the way you use energy in the forms of light bulbs, for, you know, conservation and efficiency from appliances, light bulbs. I drive a hybrid car. I actually don't own a car, but when I do, I drive a Prius.

You know, but actually, Larry, I think that without diminishing the importance of people on an individual level doing the small things in their lives, I think one of the things that motivated me to get involved with this particular kind of act, this Earth Hour event, is that I think that there's a growing sense that without action at the level of political leadership, without action taken at the legislative level and the international agreement level, a lot of these smaller gestures are really meaningless, unless we get meaningful carbon limiting legislation that has teeth in it.

So I think to me the most meaningful thing that people can do right now is make their voices heard to their elected representatives. You can go on if you want to find out more ways you can actually let your representatives know that this is something you want them to act on.

KING: All right. And Alanis, do you agree with that?

MORISSETTE: Yes. Edward is saying everything that I would want to say quite beautifully and eloquently. In terms of my personal contribution at my own home, I have solar panels and I compost. I design jewelry, so using sustainable methods to cull the gold to put into the jewelry. And then on a more public level organic cotton t- shirts for Merch (ph), the materials used for the CDs.

KING: You believe this.

MORISSETTE: I do. I love it.

KING: We'll be right back with the group. It's that time again. WE wanted to know what you think. I've had a quick look at the blogs. A lot of traffic tonight. Sarah Schnare joins us with the details. Where are you, Sarah?

SARAH SCHNARE, LKL BLOG CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Larry. We've been following the blogs live from our rooftop here at CNN. As you can tell, we are right in the heart of Hollywood. Some of the iconic buildings that will be participating Saturday are the famous Capital Records Tower directly behind me, and the observatory overlooking Hollywood.

Restaurants and bars throughout the city will offer drinks and dining by candlelight. And the famed Pylon Lights at LAX will also be powering down from 8:30 to 9:30 local time in support of a healthier, greener planet.

Now back to the blogs, which have been lighting up tonight, Larry. We have a question that comes from Jocelyn for Mr. Norton. She asks, "in the several years we've had such drastic climate changes, what are some of the smaller, more tangible things that I can help do to preserve the environment?"

NORTON: Well, I think a lot of the things that Alanis was mentioning. Not everybody has the money for solar panels and things like that, although in places like California and New York, there are some really interesting new methods of financing things like solar panels available through your local utility providers. But I think conscientiousness about conservation, conscientiousness about how the products that you use are sourced is a very easy way for you to affect the way that we produce what we use, by voting with your dollars. I think just a little bit of extra effort to take the time to figure out how what you're using is sourced and what it actually contains is a very meaningful way to participate.

KING: Sarah, thanks so much. Come down from the roof. Back with more on Earth Hour after this.


KING: We're back and there you see our live shots in cities all over the country. We're back with Edward Norton and Alanis Morissette. And we now welcome Carter Roberts, the president of the World Wildlife Fund, in Washington. Alanis is one of many celebrities appearing in a public service announcement for Earth Hour 2009. And as you'll see, it was designed to get your attention. Take a look.


MORISSETTE: Hi. I'm Alanis Morissette. I'd like to talk with you about a huge turn off. On March 28th, millions around the world will turn off their lights for one hour to take action against climate change. It's called Earth Hour.

And it's a turn off everyone can be part of. So join me, won't you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sixty minutes on just one day.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Las Vegas will show the world --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- we care about climate change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One hour. Earth Hour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So join us for Earth Hour and turn it off.



KING: Great idea. Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund, was this your idea?


KING: No, the whole thing.

ROBERTS: The whole thing was started in Australia. And my colleague in WWF Australia came up with this idea two years ago. We had Sydney turn out the lights with Kate Blanchett and the mayor of Sydney. Last year, we had 400 cities go dark. And this year, as Edward said, we have something approaching 4,000 go dark.

KING: Do you feel or do you know it works?

ROBERTS: We know it works when we see individuals sending letters to Congressmen and senators. And we know it works when we see people take matters into their own hands. People have really taken ownership of Earth Hour as their way, their opportunity to make a statement, but also take action. And I think that's why we're seeing literally hundreds of millions of people around the world take part.

KING: It's 8:30 Saturday night to shut the lights off. We have an e-mail question from Beverly in Richfield, Connecticut, could be for all of you. "For Earth Hour 2010, what about the possibility of getting power companies to credit a free hour of electricity to private homes that turn off? I think it would encourage more families to take part." Alanis?

MORISSETTE: I think it's a great idea. I'm not sure where we'd have to start. Carter would probably have some great opinions on that.

KING: What do you think, Carter?

ROBERTS: We found that businesses, including power companies, want to be part of the solution. And they're looking for creative ways to support people in moving toward energy efficiency. So I think it's a great idea. I'm happy to talk to some of my friends who run power companies and interact and encourage Congress to pass legislation to put a price on carbon and to make it --

KING: Good idea.

ROBERTS: -- make it easier for them to make the kind of investments and support customers and move it in this direction.

KING: Where will you be Saturday night, Edward?

NORTON: I may be at home in New York City or I may be down with Carter in Washington, D.C., if I can make it down there. But I'll be in one of those two great cities watching a lot of lights go out.

KING: The lights go out.


KING: Alanis?

MORISSETTE: I'll be at my house, most likely, shutting off as many things as I possibly can.

KING: Do you wonder, after this and the attention it gets, don't you wonder how many lights are going to go out? You look out the window and go -- MORISSETTE: Yes, to be on some bird's eye view and behold it all. The symbolism of it, it's a vote, in affect. It's a visual, artistic vote, because it will be beautiful, as well as potent for people to express themselves through a simple action of turning off their lights and also obviously in their day-to-day lives as well.

KING: Carter Roberts, thank you for doing this. And of course thank you, Edward Norton. You're not only a terrific actor, but a great citizen, the U.S. ambassador for Earth Hour. What can we say, Alanis?

NORTON: Thanks for the time, Larry.

KING: The Grammy winning singer as well. And thank you all for -- don't forget, this big night is 8:30 on Saturday. As we leave you tonight, we're dimming our studio lights to show our support for Earth Hour this Saturday 8:30 to 9:30. Might inspire you to do your part for our planet.

Now out of the dark comes Anderson Cooper, along the Texas-Mexico border, with the war next door. Anderson, see us?