December 10th, 2008
05:31 PM ET

Palin slaughtered turkey sells for big profit on ebay

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/21/art.palin.turkey.jpg caption="The infamous turkey in the background of Gov. Sarah Palin's interview sold for $225."]

Jason Linkins
The Huffington Post

Good economic news for everybody today, as a recession-proof sector in our overall economy has been discovered. What sector is that? The sector where you straight up shove animals in a woodchipper in the proximity of Sarah Palin and a teevee camera, that's what!


Remember the unfortunate turkey that was being slaughtered as a local Alaska TV station interviewed Governor Sarah Palin? It's now been sold on eBay for $225 .

The "historic" turkey was bestowed to the one lone bidder by Triple D Farm in Palmer, Alaska, where Palin had pardoned another lucky turkey earlier that day. After the ceremony, she discussed her plans for the Thanksgiving holiday while the unlucky turkey met its grim fate.

Unlike that time Palin tried to sell a plane on eBay, fifty percent of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to the local Department of Veteran's Affairs.


December 10th, 2008
05:05 PM ET

The Blagojevich moment

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/10/illinois.governor/art.gov.gi.jpg caption="Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, was arrested Tuesday on federal corruption charges."]
Katrina vanden Heuvel
The Nation

It is absolutely mind boggling to read of the pay-to-play corruptiongone wild in the indictment against Governor Rod Blagojevich - from withholding money for a children’s hospital unless given campaign contributions, to trying to sell a Senate seat to the highest bidder, to demanding editors be fired by the Tribune Company in exchange for help selling Wrigley Field, to speeding up all of these efforts before a new ethics law taking effect this January 1…. not to mention the egomaniacal profanity with which Blagojevich issued his demands.

But beyond the shock and sadness of this moment, what’s key is something that novelist Scott Turow zeroed in on in a New York Times editorial today. He writes, “I hope the governor’s arrest galvanizes public outrage and at last speeds reform.”


December 10th, 2008
04:41 PM ET

Obama's Human Rights Opportunity

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Jimmy Carter
For The Washington Post

The advancement of human rights around the world was a cornerstone of foreign policy and U.S. leadership for decades, until the attacks on our country on Sept. 11, 2001.

Since then, while Americans continue to espouse freedom and democracy, our government's abusive practices have undermined struggles for freedom in many parts of the world. As the gross abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay were revealed, the United States lost its mantle as a champion of human rights, eliminating our national ability to speak credibly on the subject, let alone restrain or gain concessions from oppressors. Tragically, a global backlash against democracy and rights activists, who are now the targets of abuse, has followed.

The advancement of human rights and democracy is necessary for global stability and can be achieved only through the local, often heroic, efforts of individuals who speak out against injustice and oppression - endeavors the United States should lead, not impede. If the early warnings of human rights activists had been heeded and tough diplomacy and timely intervention mobilized, the horrific, and in some cases ongoing, violence in Bosnia, Rwanda, Sudan's Darfur region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo might have been averted.

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. With a new administration and a new vision coming to the White House, we have the opportunity to move boldly to restore the moral authority behind the worldwide human rights movement. But the first steps must be taken at home.


Filed under: Bosnia • Terrorism • United Nations
December 10th, 2008
04:28 PM ET

Glengarry Rod Blagojevich

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/10/illinois.corruption/art.rod.gi.jpg caption="Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested on federal conspiracy charges Tuesday."]

Choire Sicha

If David Mamet didn't write the profane, wiretapped dialogue for the Illinois governor's attempt to sell Obama's Senate seat, he should have. A play in one act.

Editor's note: Much of the dialogue below comes from the secretly recorded conversations of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, his wife, his chief of staff and other associates as revealed in federal court documents upon Blagojevich's arrest Monday. The rest of it is made up.

ROD BLAGOJEVICH, AKA BLAGO, the governor of Illinois, is at his tacky Ravenswood home, on the phone. His wife is sprawled on the couch behind him, petting a fur coat made entirely of hundreds of white kittens. Blago waves a copy of the Chicago Tribune as he speaks.

BLAGO (into phone)

So we gotta do something about the f–ing Trib and its f–ing editorials.


Hold up that f–ing Cubs s–t! F– them!


December 10th, 2008
04:10 PM ET

Why tie health insurance to a job?

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Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Ron Wyden
The Wall Street Journal

Not many people are buying cars built 60 years ago. No one is watching TV on a set manufactured in the 1940s. Patients are not lining up to see a doctor who hasn't cracked a book since before the polio vaccine was discovered. Why, then, do millions of Americans get their health care through an employer-based system from the 1940s?

Employers didn't start offering health benefits roughly 60 years ago because they were experts in medical decisions. It was a way of circumventing the World War II wage and price controls. Barred from offering higher salaries to attract workers, employers offered health insurance instead. Aided by an IRS ruling that said workers who received health benefits did not have to pay income taxes on them, and by the fact that employers could write off the cost of the health benefits as a business related expense, this accidental arrangement became the primary way most Americans access health care.

The system worked at first, but a lot has changed in 60 years. Back then, the average soldier returning from World War II took a job with a local company where he would work for decades until he got a gold watch at a big retirement party. Today, lifetime employment is dead. By 42, the average American will change jobs 11 times.

Sixty years ago, most American companies competed only against neighboring companies for lucrative contracts. Today, most businesses are up against foreign companies that don't foot the bill for their employees' health-care costs.

Today, health-care costs are increasing at twice the rate of inflation. To stay in the black, companies are forced to raise their employees' premiums and deductibles, opt for cheaper insurance plans, or worse yet, drop health benefits altogether. Since 2000, the percentage of employers providing health insurance has declined by nearly 10%.


Filed under: Health Care • Medical News
December 10th, 2008
03:40 PM ET

TV station will show man's suicide

John Coles
The Sun

The dramatic moment when a man is helped to end his own life is being shown for the first time on British TV tonight.

Craig Ewert chose to die to escape what he called the “living tomb” which his body had become after he developed motor neurone disease. The retired university professor and father of two was struck down by the illness at 59.
Within five months it had left him unable even to breathe unaided, so he paid £3,000 for an assisted suicide with the Swiss-based Dignitas euthanasia organisation.

Film cameras followed him during his final days in a Dignitas-owned apartment in Zurich.

The resulting documentary — Right To Die? — shows him passing away with Mary, his wife of 37 years, at his side.

Moments before he dies, she asks him: “Can I give you a kiss?”

Craig replies: “Of course” and Mary adds: “I love you.”

Craig says: “I love you, sweetheart, so much.”

Mary then tells him: “Have a safe journey, I will see you some time.”

In law, Dignitas can only assist suicide and cannot carry out the final act. So, with his body barely functioning, Craig is given a timer to bite on which turns off his ventilator.

Retired social worker Arthur Bernard, who has acted as an “escort” in more than 100 assisted suicides for Dignitas, also mixes a lethal dose of barbiturate and pours it into a glass.

He says: “Mr Ewert, if you drink this you are going to die.”

Craig drinks through a pink straw, then says: “Give me some apple juice. Please can I have some music?”

Moments before his eyes close for the final time he says: “Thank you.” His wife then says: “Safe journey. Have a good sleep.”

After 45 minutes he is pronounced dead.


December 10th, 2008
03:10 PM ET

Q & A with President-elect Obama

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The Los Angeles Times

Have you ever spoken to [ Illinois] Gov. [ Rod R.] Blagojevich about the Senate seat?

I have not discussed the Senate seat with the governor at any time. My strong belief is that it needed to be filled by somebody who is going to represent the people of Illinois and fight for them. And beyond that, I was focused on the transition.

And that was before and after the election?


Are you aware of any conversations between Blagojevich or [chief of staff] John Harris and any of your top aides, including Rahm [Emanuel]?

Let me stop you there because . . . it's an ongoing investigation. I think it would be inappropriate for me to, you know, remark on the situation beyond the facts that I know. And that's the fact that I didn't discuss this issue with the governor at all.

Could you talk to the point of whether an appointment by Gov. Blagojevich would taint whoever your successor would be, given what we know?

I think what the people of Illinois deserve is somebody they can trust, somebody that's going to fight for them and, you know, I think we've got to make sure that whatever process emerges gives them that assurance. I haven't examined all the options that are out there at this point.

Given the state of the economy, has that forced any changes in your priorities and could you talk about what you would like to roll out in terms of sequencing of the things you would like to accomplish?

You've got an interesting convergence between the circumstances that we find ourselves in and the agenda that I have set. Because we need to jump-start the economy, all the proposals that I put forward earlier are ones that are directly designed to put people to work and get the economy moving: a tax cut for 95% of working families - I think that's needed more than ever - a serious investment in infrastructure that lays the foundation for a green-energy economy, that's a job-creator and makes our economy more competitive. Investing in technologies that can reduce healthcare costs and error; that is needed more than ever.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Economy • Environmental issues • Raw Politics
December 10th, 2008
02:59 PM ET

Chicago Tribune too cozy with the cops?

Editor's Note: On rare occasions, CNN has embargoed stories at the request of Government and law enforcement agencies, and other media organizations in the past. CNN has exchanged information with Governments, Law Enforcement Agencies and Intelligence Services.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/10/art.chicago.tribune.jpg]

James Janega
Chicago Tribune

As the federal probe into Gov. Rod Blagojevich intensified in recent weeks, editors and reporters at the Chicago Tribune balanced a competitive story with a rare request from U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald's office: To hold off on what they uncovered until a key phase in the investigation could be carried out.

Except in unusual circumstances, newspapers rarely comply with such requests because journalists typically try to steer clear of doing anything that can be seen as working with the governmental agencies they cover.

"It's very important for news organizations to remain independent from law enforcement. Independence is the key to journalistic integrity. When you enter into agreements or partnerships, you find your independence compromised," said Kelly McBride, media ethicist at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. "If we are too cozy with law enforcement, we will have no credibility when we question law enforcement, in the eyes of the public."


Since October, the Tribune has broken several stories on the Blagojevich probe, but in some cases withheld information because of the government's request.

Filed under: Justice Department • Raw Politics
December 10th, 2008
02:26 PM ET

Deck the halls with boughs of corruption

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/09/illinois.governor/t1home.gov.blago4.gi.jpg caption="Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich"]
Jack Gray
AC360 Associate Producer

Ah, Illinois: The more things change the more they stay the same. The state that just last month gave the country widespread political hope in the form of Barack Obama has now given the country deep political cynicism in the form of Rod “Catch Me if You Can” Blagojevich. And, no, I don’t know what he planned on doing with all that dirty money, but I hope at least some of it was going to go toward having his bangs trimmed.

Perhaps, in hindsight, the signs were there. There were the campaign commercials: “I’m Rod Blagojevich and I approved this message…and by ‘approved’ I mean I threatened it until it paid me $500,000.” Then there was that late night infomercial during which he sold ab machines and highway contracts. And of course all those “Gubernatorial Small Business Seminars” which were basically just gas station robberies.

And I guess it was rather telling when, during his inaugural address, Blagojevich said: “This is such a great state, I’m so proud to be from the Land of Al Capone…uh, I mean the Land of Lincoln.”


Filed under: 360° Radar • Jack Gray • Raw Politics • Rod Blagojevich
December 10th, 2008
02:07 PM ET

'Planet in Peril' plays off environmental concerns

Ted Cox
Daily Herald Columnist

With the presidential election over, how are the major cable networks going to generate the sort of hysteria that builds Nielsen ratings?

Everybody, it seems, is going green.

Yes, the apocalyptic environmental special – the end of the world is near, and all that – has never been hotter, not even back in the days when Walter Cronkite was looking ahead to "The 21st Century," a show that provided a generation of Baby Boom science classes with film diversions.

CNN's occasional and appropriately titled series "Planet in Peril" is no exception as it returns with its second installment at [9 PM ET] Thursday, Dec. 11, but then again let's be sure to place it in context. After all, it's a lot more responsible to be crying wolf over the environment in our age of global warming than it is, say, for a cable news outlet to generate mass hysteria over some missing white girl in an Amber Alert.

The latest "Planet in Peril" gets off to a sensationalistic-enough start with Anderson Cooper and CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta looking for the potential outbreak of the next AIDS epidemic with "virus hunter" Dr. Nathan Wolfe. They trace the rising consumption of "bush meat" in central Africa, where a virulent disease could easily jump species, with global implications. In fact, it already has, in the form of AIDS and monkey pox...


Filed under: Planet in Peril • Ted Cox
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