May 1st, 2009
05:43 PM ET

Our common humanity

Jami Floyd
In Session anchor

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/01/swine-flu-mex-police.jpg caption="Mexican police stand guard wearing surgery masks in Mexico City "]

Conservatives are already starting to blame swine flu cases, here in the US, on Mexican immigrants. Of course, there is no evidence that Mexican immigrants, legal or otherwise, are responsible. But some conservative talking heads don’t care about the facts. The pundit pit is filled with folks who want to use the imminent flu pandemic to pander to the right; but they’d better be careful.

The evidence suggests that this virus started at a factory farm. Oh sure, it’s in Mexico; but it is owned by a U.S. company. There are a million pigs on the farm, at any given time. The conditions are deplorable, with huge lagoons of manure and rotting pig carcasses strewn about and swarms of flies feeding on the mess.

And flies carry influenza.


Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd • Mexico
May 1st, 2009
04:47 AM ET

High expectations

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on
“In Session.”

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Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

One hundred days ago, when Barack Obama took office, the country was full of high expectations. Change was afoot in America. Comparisons were made to Kennedy and FDR and, most often, to our greatest president, Lincoln. Even those who had supported his opponent were hopeful that this new young leader would get our country back on track.

One hundred days sure goes by quickly doesn’t it?

Here we are 100 days later and already we’re asking: What has he done for me lately?

Even the president has had to admit that change in Washington comes very slowly: “I can’t just press a button and make the bankers do what it want them to do,” the new President lamented last night at a prime time press conference to mark the occasion, “I can’t just flip a switch and have Congress fall in line.”


Filed under: 360° Radar • In Session • Jami Floyd
April 30th, 2009
11:46 AM ET

The more things change...

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Jami Floyd
In Session

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Voting Rights Act became law 44 years ago; but it has been repeatedly challenged and repeatedly upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Today, it’s back before the justices with a case focused on the usual suspects: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi, states with a long and ugly history of discrimination at the voting booth. But Section 5, the section of the law specifically at issue, also covers Alaska and parts of California and New York. In fact, there are a total of 16 states that are required to get approval from the Justice Department before they can change any of their statutory voting procedures.

Some of these states are actually asking the justices to uphold the law as a model of civil rights integrity and enforcement.

But, God love ‘em, Georgia and Alabama, states with the most notorious of histories, are fighting the case tooth and nail. They argue that there is no need for a law rooted in the past, a law passed 25 years ago; and they’re pointing to Barack Obama as proof.


Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd • Justice Department
April 28th, 2009
02:46 PM ET

The strength of our convictions

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/28/watkins-craig-dallas-da.jpg caption="Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins is reviewing DNA cases."]

Jami Floyd | Bio
In Session

For more than a decade, innocent people behind bars have been fighting for DNA testing. And at every turn, it seems, prosecutors were there to stop them — denying access to the DNA material, denying the very possibility of a wrongful conviction.

But we know now, hundreds of exonerations later, that mistakes are made; and slowly the tide is changing. Prosecutors, across the country, are beginning to question the strength of their convictions. They should. As the pace of DNA exonerations has increased in recent years, we have been faced with the disturbing truth: Our criminal justice system is broken; and it needs to be fixed.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • In Session • Jami Floyd
April 23rd, 2009
05:39 PM ET

All’s well that ends well

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Jami Floyd | Bio
In Session

Happy Birthday Bill! As in Bill Shakespeare. The bard’s actual date of birth isn’t known for certain, but most scholars put it on April 23, 1564.

So if you are among those who consider the bard the greatest writer ever, today is the day to unleash thy inner bard. Mayor Daley in Chicago has decreed it: “Talk Like Shakespeare Day” so, “screw your courage to the sticking place” and celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday—with his words.

Shakespeare contributed more than 1,700 words and phrases to the English language. So all day long, you can pepper your conversation with phrases like “prithee” and “fie”. Or, if you’re at lunch, “pass yonder salt and pepper.” If you’re the boss: “come hither sirrah.” Need to yell at that driver who just cut you off? “a pox on both your houses. Why settle for ‘idiot’, when you can say “thou rank fly bitten canker-blossom”? So much more satisfying.

All you lawyers out there can add weight to your arguments, start them with “methinks,” “mayhaps,” “in sooth” or “wherefore.” And speaking of lawyers, Shakespeare didn’t really want us to “kill all the lawyers”. His point was precisely the opposite: eliminate the lawyers and social unrest results. “Sweets to the sweet” has come to mean an amorous gesture. But Hamlet’s mother was talking about funeral flowers. Most of the time we get it right, which is saying something four-hundred and forty-four years after the fact. It says something about the power of words: then and now.

Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd • The Buzz
April 20th, 2009
05:28 PM ET

Remembering Columbine

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Jami Floyd | Bio
In Session

Today marks the 10-year anniversary of Columbine, the date on which Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold stormed their high school campus and took 15 lives, including their own. The shootings left a trail of horror, too many young victims, and shattered families that will never again know peace of mind.

It also left all of us with some tough questions to answer: Why does this continue to happen in our country, and more so than in other countries? Is it because our gun laws aren’t tough enough? Or, is it because more people aren’t armed to protect themselves? Is it a failing of our mental health system?

Why don’t we ever see these massacres coming? Colin Ferguson; Virginia Tech; and just this month, Binghamton, New York.

Maybe it’s the media. Studies are conflicted about whether violence in fiction leads to violence in reality. But it sure is a question worth asking. None of us have all the answers. But on the anniversary of Columbine, we owe it to the victims to get to the bottom of it.

Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd
April 15th, 2009
03:55 PM ET

Our greatest president

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session.”

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/03/11/lincoln.photograph/art.lincoln2.cnn.jpg caption="President Abraham Lincoln"]

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

Abraham Lincoln died 144 years ago today. He’d been shot the day before, Good Friday, at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. The actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth, inflicted the mortal wound — a single shot to the head that would have killed most men instantly. Lincoln, however, held on for almost 10 hours, and died on April 15, 1865. He was 56 years old.

More than 14,000 books have been written about Lincoln. Why the fascination? Simply put, Lincoln was the greatest president of the world’s greatest democracy.

Here’s why: Lincoln freed the slaves, including my ancestors, which, of course, makes me a bit partial. Lincoln, however, went beyond the Emancipation; he helped pioneer modern race relations by welcoming black abolitionists like Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth to the White House at a time when African-Americans were still less than full people as a matter of law.

Lincoln also represents the best of the American dream. Talk about bootstraps: up from poverty all the way to the White House, a journey it would take most families generations to achieve, if ever they did, this extraordinary man managed it in a single lifetime.

Though Abe Lincoln received fewer than two years of formal education, he understood the power of the English language and used it change hearts and minds. He also knew when fewer words would serve better. The iconic Gettysburg address is just 10 sentences long. At Gettysburg, Lincoln brilliantly summarized the Civil War in two to three minutes.

Lincoln’s character was constant through America’s most difficult hour. Simply put, had the president been nearly any other than Lincoln at that moment in our history, the “United States” would likely not be.

Lincoln died just days after the Civil War ended. But our greatest president laid the groundwork for this to become the greatest of nations.


Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd
April 10th, 2009
03:33 PM ET

The quiet indictment of Rod Blagojevich

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Jamie Floyd | Bio
In Session

As you may know – or you may not – Rod Blagojevich has been indicted. The former governor of Illinois was finally indicted last week.

The announcement was exceptionally quiet, especially given the fanfare that followed his arrest late last year on charges of conspiring to gain financially from his appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. In a press conference held by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, he called the charges against Blagojevich “a truly new low” and gratuitously added that “the conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave.” The 76 page FBI affidavit was laced with cuss words, the best bits read aloud, with seeming glee, across the 24/7 spectrum. There was also the unprecedented media tour conducted by the still-sitting governor on every outlet (including ours) to save his seat and perhaps change the course of criminal events.

It didn’t work.

Last Thursday, the feds handed down their indictment on 16 counts, including racketeering, fraud and extortion counts. Coming nearly four months after federal agents roused the governor out of his home in a pre-dawn arrest and weeks after lawmakers dumped him from office, the indictment of Blagojevich, his brother and four former top insiders was anti-climactic.

But that’s a good thing, if you ask me. This case shouldn’t be tried in the court of public opinion. It should be tried in a court of law. And now, it will be.

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • In Session • Jami Floyd • Rod Blagojevich
April 9th, 2009
04:58 PM ET

Turnabout is fair play

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on
“In Session.”

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/09/stevens-ted-wife-crths.jpg caption="Former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and his wife Catherine outside the federal courthouse on Tuesday in Washington, DC"]

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

Former Senator Ted Stevens has filed the paperwork necessary to lay the groundwork for another senatorial bid. It seems the disgraced octogenarian wants to return to the Senate in 2014.

And why not? Sure, he was convicted of seven counts of making false statements and various other ethics violations; but the indictment underlying his convictions was withdrawn last week by new Attorney General Eric Holder who was deeply troubled by the prosecutorial misconduct in the case.


Filed under: 360º Follow • Crime & Punishment • In Session • Jami Floyd • Ted Stevens
April 8th, 2009
05:50 PM ET

Free Lee and Ling

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Jami Floyd
In Session

Two American journalists are under arrest in North Korea and the communist country is planning to put the two women on trial for so-called “hostile acts.” The journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, stumbled across the Chinese border into North Korea while researching a documentary about starving North Korean refugees.

It is not clear when the North Koreans will hold their so-called trial but the situation is troubling, to say the least. Laura and Euna have been in custody since March 17th; and the government’s state-run news agency has “reported” that the women have implicated themselves during interrogations. North Korea is accusing these reporters of illegal entry and hostile acts, which they have yet to define.

I don’t know these women personally; but they are affiliated with Current TV. Current is the global television network for independent journalists started by my old boss, Al Gore. I know a lot of the people affiliated with Current and I know its very purpose is to give independent journalists a voice. Current is based in San Francisco, my old stomping ground, and I came up with some of the folks who file their reports with Current in the effort to influence what we see on television.

Laura Ling also happens to be sister to my colleague, former “View” co-host Lisa Ling. So, I know lots of people who do know these two reporters and from everything I’ve heard, they are not criminals; they are not spies. They are hard working journalists who have lost their freedom for attempting to tell the truth about a repressive regime; and we should all be calling for their release.

Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd • North Korea
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