News Wrap: Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Charged With Misusing Campaign Funds
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was charged today with diverting $750,000 dollars in campaign funds to personal use. The Illinois Democrat resigned from Congress last November after being treated for bipolar disorder. He responded to the federal charges today, saying — quote — “I offer no excuses for my conduct and I fully accept my responsibility.”
In a related case, his wife pleaded guilty to a single count of tax fraud.
The people who endured long days on a disabled cruise ship were headed home today. Their ordeal in the Gulf of Mexico came to an end when the crippled craft pulled into port.
Cheers erupted from Carnival Cruise’s Triumph as it finally docked in Mobile, Ala., late last night, five days after an engine room fire left the ship dead in the water. Over the next four hours, more than 3,100 weary passengers streamed ashore.
WOMAN: I’m speechless. It’s just really great to finally be back in America and on land.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Many took buses to New Orleans to catch flights home today, while others were bused back to Galveston, Texas, to retrieve cars left at the ship’s home port. Some stopped to tell of the drama that began last Sunday.
KRISTINA COURSON, Passenger: People were slamming doors and freaking out. “The ship’s on fire, the ship’s on fire.” And then at that point, it kind of sunk in the reality of, this is a — you know, a very serious situation.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In the days that followed, they made do with little or no power or working toilets.
PARISA SAFARZADEH, Passenger; Every time the boat listed or leaned, the sewage would spill over. So, that was what became the primary problem was this terrible odor, and the sanitation was just out of control.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Still, some passengers praised the ship’s employees during the crisis.
WOMAN: It was bad. It was bad, but we want to be sure the crew gets some credit for all that they did.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Carnival senior vice president Terry Thornton* was on hand last night offering passengers his own apology for all that happened. *Carnival Cruise Lines CEO Gerry Cahill was incorrectly identified as Terry Thornton.
GERRY CAHILL, Carnival Cruise Lines: I know the conditions on board were very poor. I know it was very difficult, and I want to apologize again for subjecting our guests to that.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The company promised a full refund, transportation expenses, and a credit for a future cruise. But, for some, that won’t be enough.
ADRIANA PEREZ, Passenger: Never again in my life will I even walk around a cruise ship. I’m done. I’m done. Never again. It’s not going to happen.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Meanwhile, the ship was towed to a work yard, where safety investigators will take a close look at what happened and why.
Starting in March, people arrested in New York City for possession of small quantities of marijuana will no longer be arrested and arraigned. Instead, they will be issued a ticket and told to appear in court. Mayor Michael Bloomberg outlined the change in policy on Thursday evening. He said it will allow the city to target police where they are needed most. Today, the mayor said he remains opposed to legalizing marijuana outright.
The murder drama surrounding South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius moved to a new stage today, a courtroom in Pretoria.
We have a report from Rohit Kachroo of Independent Television News.
ROHIT KACHROO: The glare of the flashlights he’s used to, but not this, and it showed. Photographers rushed to capture the court appearance. Inside, Pistorius seemed confused. He buried his head in his hands at the first mention of the word murder.
Occasionally, he acknowledged the magistrate, but little else. His lawyer spoke of his traumatized state of mind. Then he was led to the cells. His friends and family sat behind him, could not catch his gaze. His father offered his hand to comfort him, but their eyes never met. Both father and brother left together with other relatives, all unwilling, some unable to speak about what they just witnessed.
MAN: And Oscar Pistorius, the greatest Paralympic athlete of all time, is going to take this gold medal!
ROHIT KACHROO: Oscar Pistorius, double amputee, became a Paralympic star, then an Olympian, too. His girlfriend, model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp, was found dead at his home yesterday morning. Investigators recovered a .9-millimeter pistol.
Talkmore Nyongani was his training partner for four years, sharing a room, traveling the world. He refuses to believe the allegations.
TALKMORE NYONGANI, Former Training Partner of Oscar Pistorius: It was a shocking incident, like we heard, what happened. I tried at the moment to try to contact him, but I knew that was impossible.
ROHIT KACHROO: And you don’t believe these allegations?
TALKMORE NYONGANI: No, I don’t believe it at all.
ROHIT KACHROO: You say they cannot be true?
TALKMORE NYONGANI: Yes, cannot be true.
ROHIT KACHROO: And there are many people here who refuse to believe it, South Africa’s humble hero spending a second night in a prison cell.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Pistorius didn’t enter a plea at the hearing. If convicted on the murder charge, he could face life in prison.
In economic news, output at U.S. auto plants fell in January, and that pushed overall manufacturing down after two months of gains. And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained eight points to close at 13,981. The Nasdaq fell six points to close at 3,192. For the week, both the Dow and the Nasdaq dropped a 10th of a percent.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.