July 30th, 2009
08:32 AM ET
June 17th, 2009
06:31 PM ET

In search of a story

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/17/ling-lee-skorea-protest.jpg caption="A South Korean activist holding pictures of U.S. journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling"]

Jami Floyd
In Session anchor

The families of two American journalists convicted of “hostilities against the Korean nation” and sentenced to hard labor in a North Korean prison camp are speaking out. The families of Euna Lee and Laura Ling say that yesterday’s news from North Korea said that the women had admitted crossing into the country illegally was the first (and only) word they have had about them since last week’s sentencing.

Of course, Americans visiting other countries must follow their laws. If we don’t, we will be subject to their system of justice, no matter how undemocratic it may be. In this case, however, Lee and Ling weren’t in North Korea; they were in China. Even if they did cross the border, they have apologized, publicly, privately and repeatedly.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Jami Floyd • North Korea
June 15th, 2009
08:15 AM ET

‘Pelham’ in post 9/11 New York

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/15/pelham-123-poster.jpg]

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

Jami Floyd
AC360° contributor and In Session anchor

I just saw Pelham (as in “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3″. It is a remake of one of a 1970s film — one of my favorites during my childhood in New York City. This remake is every bit as good (though entirely different) from the original. The director Tony Scott is a master of action filmmaking and he’s updated this cat-and-mouse game with beautiful color, quick cutting and masterful camera work, not to mention two brilliantly cast marquee stars in Denzel Washington and John Travolta.

Scott’s New York City is beautiful, sleek and clean. If one is to speak honestly, it is more the New York City of our hearts and minds than the city we New Yorkers live in every day. There is only one rat in the entire film and nary a cockroach to be seen. But he captures the spirit of New York and turns it into a visual masterpiece.

At bottom, Pelham is an homage to our city and our beloved subway system; it is a fantastic film.


Filed under: 360° Radar • In Session • Jami Floyd
June 12th, 2009
11:06 AM ET

Homegrown hate on the rise

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/11/holocaust-museum-doubledoor-bullets.jpg caption="FBI investigators in front of the bullet-ridden door at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. "]

Jami Floyd
In Session anchor

The shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Museum by a self-described anti-government racist is just the latest example of the rising tide of hate in America. Barack Obama may be the President, but we’d be foolish to we think that racial hatred is a thing of the past. It’s not.

FBI investigators in front of the bullet-ridden door at the Holocaust Memorial Museum

Extremism is undeniable to those who have the courage to look at the facts. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups across America, rising unemployment, anti-immigrant sentiment, and the fact that we have our first African-American president are inspiring a new generation of angry young men — and no small number of women — to extremism and hate.

Today marks the anniversary of the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy Mcveigh; but white supremacism and anti-government hate did not die with him. The militia movement receded from the headlines post 9/11, but it is alive and well.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Jami Floyd
June 8th, 2009
05:21 PM ET

To tell the truth

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/08/ling-lee-hostages.jpg caption="Euna Lee, left, and Laura Ling"]

Jami Floyd
In Session anchor

Two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, have been convicted of “severe crimes” in North Korea. North Korea is not a country known for its fair trials, so we don’t know what these “severe crimes” are; but we do know that the women had previously been charged with “hostile acts” and espionage — which, of course, fuels rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea and calls for a delicate diplomatic balancing act.

There is the humanitarian issue: trying to get these women out; and there is the political issue: North Korea, its nuclear testing and relationship with the rest of the world.

There are no diplomatic relations between the U.S. and North Korea.

This whole mess with Laura and Euna started when they were filming a documentary on the North Korean border with China.

Keep reading

Filed under: 360° Radar • Global 360° • In Session • Jami Floyd • Lisa Ling
June 5th, 2009
05:04 PM ET

The rest of his life

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/05/higbee-5-11-sitting.jpg caption="If convicted, former state trooper Robert Higbee could spend at least 20 years behind bars."]

Jami Floyd
CNN In Session Anchor

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. The death of Jacqueline and Christina Becker was a tragedy. But it was an accident, not a crime.

First there’s police procedure. Robert Higbee did exactly what he was trained to do as a state trooper. He saw someone doing 65 MPH in a 35 MPH zone. To pursue the speeder was his duty, not a choice. Moreover, New Jersey law specifically exempts police officers engaged in the pursuit of suspects from provisions of the vehicle code related to speed.

So that takes us to this particular trooper’s state of mind. Was he reckless?


Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment • Jami Floyd
June 2nd, 2009
07:23 PM ET

Truth or consequences

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/06/02/tiller-george-courtesy-.kwch.jpg caption="George Tiller"]

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

Dr. George Tiller, one of only a few doctors in the nation who performed abortions late in pregnancy, was shot and killed Sunday — at his church of all places. Whatever you think of abortion, you have to agree that to kill a man at his house of worship on the Sabbath is a cowardly act; and whatever you think of the work he did, Dr. Tiller himself was no coward. He knew this was coming. He’d been shot and nearly killed once before while his clinic had been bombed and he received death threats every day.

The fact that he was killed at church on Sunday adds a cruel irony to a debate that is all about life, death and God. Those who oppose abortion do so because they see it as murder. They are passionate precisely because it is a matter of faith. That’s why the debate can reach a fever pitch.

The bation’s foremost anti-abortion advocacy group, Operation Rescue, was quick to respond to news of the killing. Co-founder Randall Terry said this:

“I stand before you today saying about George Tiller what I said in his life. He was a mass murderer. George Tiller was a mass murderer. He killed tens of thousands of innocent human beings at his own hand…”

Dr. Tiller, however, was not a mass murderer — not under the law. The Supreme Court has said so.
More to the point, this kind of incendiary language does not lead to a healthy debate. It leads to violence.

With the murder of Dr. Tiller, the abortion issue returns to center stage. As we engage in it, please let’s remember, that our words have consequences. The truth is that our differences cannot be resolved by acts of violence.

Find more In Session blogs here.

Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd • Women's Issues • Women's Rights
May 29th, 2009
08:59 AM ET

Prop hate

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/05/29/prop-8-upheld.jpg]

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

I clerked for the California Supreme Court so I was uniquely disappointed, but not at all surprised, by the decision of the court this week on gay marriage.

The news got drowned out a bit by the announcement of a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court which is ironic because this whole gay marriage thing could end up there eventually. But for this state supreme court, the whole question boiled down to the will of the people.

Now, in my humble opinion, the California initiative process is a cop-out. It relieves state legislators of the responsibility of making the hard decisions they were sent there to make; and, it leaves the public holding the bag that contains the thorny really tough questions.

That being said, the justices were loath to overturn a decision made by a majority (however slim) of voters.

The gay marriage fight in California is far from over, however. Yes, the court ruled to uphold Proposition 8; but the ruling does not mean the justices agree with the sum, substance or mean spirit of the law. Remember, the same court upheld same sex marriage in May, 2008. The difference from May, 2008 and now? One election cycle.

Prop 8 passed with 52 percent of the vote. But that is hardly the end of the story. Change is still coming, it just comes slowly. Iowa, Maine and Vermont have recently legalized same sex marriage. Massachusetts before that. And already advocates in California are planning to take it back to the voters.

So the court’s ruling on Proposition 8 was a big moment in the evolution of the law in this area; but it by no means ends the debate.

Find more In Session blogs here.

Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd
May 27th, 2009
06:09 PM ET

Here comes justice

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor and In Session anchor

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/27/sotamayor-smile-obama-announce.jpg caption="Judge Sonia Sotomayor with President Barack Obama after announcing her as his Supreme Court nominee"]
The news is only a day old and, already, I have issues with the coverage.

Issue one: Barack Obama did not pick judge Sotomayor just because she is Puerto Rican or female.

The president picked her, first and foremost, on merit. The woman went to Princeton on scholarships, graduated summa cum laude; she then went on to Yale Law School where she edited the Yale Law Journal. The story of her life journey, including the fact that Sotomayor comes from the projects, only serves to underscore her intellectual prowess, as do her race and gender, since she came up at a time when few women of color went to law school at all. The bottom line: Judge Sotomayor is more qualified than any of the current justices were at the time of their appointments.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Jami Floyd • Sonia Sotomayor
May 26th, 2009
02:20 PM ET

Remembering what it's about

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor and In Session anchor

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/26/arlington-cemetary-memorialday-09.jpg caption="A soldier sits at a grave in Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day"]

Another Memorial Day has come and gone: Cookouts, baseball games and parades. And that’s okay; but let’s not forget the real purpose of the day: To remember the men and women of our armed services who have died at war.

At Arlington National Cemetery, soldiers, sailors and marines from the U.S. Army Old Guard placed flags at the grave stones there. It took thirteen hundred soldiers three hours to place a flag at each of the more than 300,000 gravestones.

Thousands of visitors paid their respects, not only at Arlington, but at the Long Island National Cemetery, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in Honolulu, and of course at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., and all across the country.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Jami Floyd • Memorial Day
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