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Founder & Executive Producer, Blue Sphere Media
I broke the surface having just completed the last day of diving on some of the most incredible reefs I had ever seen. Floating in the deep blue waters, I looked around and surveyed the dozens of forest covered limestone islands that surrounded me.
This was truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. I was filming the reefs in Raja Ampat off the western tip of Papua in Indonesia, one of the most remote and biologically diverse marine ecosystems on the planet.
Cruising back to our camp, we noticed a small fishing boat anchored in a shallow lagoon within the protected area. Curious, we decided to investigate. As we drew near, we made a grizzly discovery. On the blood soaked deck, covered with buzzing flies, were dozens and dozens of shark fins that had recently been sliced off of small reef sharks.
Looking into the water, an odd shape at the bottom caught our attention. Immediately we identified it as the body of a shark. It took all my willpower to control my feelings of anger and frustration. And then I recalled, where sharks should have been abundant on every protected reef, we had not seen sharks the entire week. Now it was clear why. It was also immediately clear what I had to do.
The world needed to see what I was witnessing.
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[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/10/senate.candidates/art.jackson.gi.jpg caption="Jesse Jackson Jr. says he is confident he 'engaged in no wrongdoing'."]
Tonight there are new calls for Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich to resign, a day after he was arrested on federal corruption charges. President-elect Barack Obama is pushing for him to step down. And, so are all 50 Senate Democrats on Captiol Hill. They also don't want Blagojevich to appoint anyone to Obama's now vacant Senate seat. After all, the governor is accused of trying to sell the seat to the highest bidder.
The other reveleation today came from a law enforcement official who confirmed that the person indentified in the 76-page FBI affidavit is Congressman Jesse Jackson Junior, D-Illiniois.
In the affidavit, Candidate 5 is the only one Blagojevich claimed discussed through an emissary about the possibility of raising money for the governor in exchange for the Senate seat.
But in a news conference today, Jackson denied any wrongdoing in the scandal.
"I did not initiate or authorize anyone at any time to promise anything to Govenor Blagojevich on my behalf. I never sent a message or an emissary to the governor to make an offer, to plead my case or to propose deal about a U.S. Senate seat. Period," said Jackson.
What do you think about Jackson's comments?
We'd love to hear your thoughts on today's developments.
Join us for this breaking story and the latest development on the auto bailout bill. A vote just took place on the Hill. It looks as if a deal has been made. We'll break down the numbers for you.
All that and more starting at 10 p.m. ET.
Erica Hill | BIO
I am often humbled by the kindness and generosity of others, especially in the face of personal tragedy. I cannot stop thinking about the words of Dong Yun Yoon when speaking about the pilot whose plane slammed into Yoon’s home, killing his two infant daughters, his wife and his mother-in-law. "Please pray for him not to suffer from this accident," Yoon told reporters . "He is one of our treasures for the country."
The pilot ejected safely before his plane hit the Yoon home. The latest reports point to an electrical failure as the cause of the crash.
I can’t imagine the pain Mr. Yoon and the pilot are feeling. How do you go from a family of four with two beautiful daughters one moment, to a widowed father of two babies the next?" There is no answer, no handbook, no path laid before you. “I know there are many people who have experienced more terrible things," Yoon said. "But, please, tell me how to do it. I don't know what to do."
I have to believe there is some good in each horrible moment, a glimmer of hope and joy amidst the terror and tragedy. Mr Yoon’s selfless words are that little glimmer, and they are an inspiration.
Could the pirates’ days be numbered off the coast of Somalia? The US is reportedly floating a plan that would let military forces enter Somali territory in “hot pursuit” of pirates. Those same pirates are believed to have taken in more than $150 million in ransoms this year, attacked close to 100 ships, with more than a third of those attempts resulting in successful hijackings.
I don’t think there’s a single person I know who couldn’t use an extra $100,000 dollars right now, but one woman who had the chance to get that sum, made a different choice.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/10/blagojevich.jpg caption="Gov. Rod Blagojevich is facing federal corruption charges."]
Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session”
In Session Anchor
As a criminal defense attorney and journalist I pretty much thought I’d seen it all. Until yesterday and the news out of Chicago that Governor Rod Blagojevich was actually trying to sell the senate seat vacated by our president-elect. That’s right, sell it.
The governor before this one is already in prison and two others before that. Add to that Dan Rostenkowski and convicted businessman Antoin “Tony” Rezko. But none of it could have prepared me, or dare I say the vast majority of my other fellow cynics at the intersection of journalism and politics, for the downright bold nature of what’s alleged here.
And it’s got me struggling to think like a criminal defense attorney too because if you are poor and hungry and you steal a loaf of bread, well I can defend that. But if you are given the keys to the governor’s mansion and you violate the public trust, well then it’s a whole lot harder to feel sorry for you.
Whatever crimes he may or may not have committed, the audio tapes of his wheeling and dealing reveal a man who is vengeful, profane, and even disconnected from reality. In short, a person not fit for service.
But, I will say it in this case, as I say it in every other case, as a matter of law, Governor Blagojevich is presumed innocent until proven guilty as charged.
Inspired by a commenter on Fark who called soon-to-be-former Gov. Blagojevich a "living Lego man," we decided to do a side-by-side comparison and by god, the resemblance is uncanny:
In fact, Lego has announced a new play set, available just in time for Christmas:
Legoman image by dunechaser
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/09/blagojevich.profile/art.rod.rx.gi.jpg caption="Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, shown here in 2003."]
Eamon Javers and Fred Barbash
A visibly disgusted FBI special agent Robert Grant stood at a podium in Chicago during a press conference Tuesday announcing the arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich and hurling his contempt at the entire political culture of the state of Illinois.
“If it is not the most corrupt state in the United States, it’s certainly one hell of a competitor,” Grant said, his disheveled shock of black hair giving some indication of the dramatic and stressful events of the day.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald termed the events leading up to the governor’s early-morning arrest by the FBI, “a corruption crime spree,” and said it was “an appalling statement about what’s been happening in Illinois government.”
So just what is the problem with Illinois?
It certainly seems like Illinois has a particular sweet spot for corruption: Blagojevich’s own predecessor as governor, George Ryan, went to jail in 2007 in a 6-1/2 year sentence for corruption of his own.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2007/images/07/20/t1home.fitzgerald.ap.jpg caption="U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald"]
Editor’s Note: You can read more Lisa Bloom blogs on “In Session”
In Session Anchor
Disgraced former Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Mike Nifong was disbarred last year for, among other reasons, prejudicial pretrial public comments he made about three Duke University students he accused of rape.
This jumped to mind as I watched highly respected U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald make repeated comments about the evidence against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich yesterday at Fitzgerald’s press conference.
“The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave,” Fitzgerald said, in a comment that was widely quoted by news organizations today. And that was just the beginning. “Governor Blagojevich has taken us to a truly new low,” he said. The Governor embarked upon “a political corruption crime spree.” His conduct, prosecutor Fitzgerald said, was “appalling,” repeated three times, for emphasis.
If the allegations are proven, clearly so. But we are only at the indictment phase, and Governor Blagojevich is, at this time, a citizen of the United States, presumed innocent. And U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald has an obligation to seek justice, not to seek a conviction by any means necessary.
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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/10/blagojevich.senate.seat/art.blagojevich.file.gi.jpg caption="Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested on federal conspiracy charges Tuesday."]
The Chicago Tribune
Now that Gov. Dead Meat has been arrested at his home and charged with selling Illinois by the pound—and Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat by the slice—let's just savor the aroma.
I love the smell of meat over coals in the morning.
It smells like . . . victory. The people of Illinois needed some good news and they got it. Former Republican Gov. George Ryan is in prison, and the arrest of his successor, Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, surely means that the Illinois Combine that runs this state can stop with the rumors that U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald will be leaving town.
And, as Blagojevich most likely prepares to be Ryan's bunkmate, let's not forget the scores of other politicos, of all parties, who've gone down on corruption charges—including some of Mayor Richard Daley's guys who helped rebuild that Democratic machine the mayor says doesn't exist.
At a news conference in the federal building in Chicago, authorities were asked about Illinois corruption.
"If it isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it's certainly one hell of a competitor," said Robert Grant, special agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago office.
Grant had the privilege of standing outside Blagojevich's home about 6 a.m. Tuesday and calling the sleepy governor to say federal agents were outside, waiting to arrest him quietly.
"I could tell I woke him up," Grant said. "And the first thing he said was, 'Is this a joke?' "
No, but standing before a federal judge wearing jogging pants, sneakers and a powder blue fleece sort of made the governor of Illinois look like a jester. Or a joker.
Political corruption in the state that has made corruption an art form isn't funny, like a clown. The joke is on all of us, everyone who lives in Illinois. Because Blagojevich was elected governor on the reform ticket, promising to clean up the state and end business as usual.