News Wrap: Blagojevich Jury ‘Not Close’ to Decision
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich will have to wait a while longer to learn his legal fate. The jury in his federal corruption trial sent word today that it is not close to finishing.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Blagojevich appeared upbeat this morning, as he entered the federal courthouse in Chicago. He is accused of trying to sell an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Obama, and of trying to use his office for personal gain. But after deliberating for nearly two weeks, jurors told the judge that it has been slow going.
They reported they’ve reached decisions on just two of 24 counts, without saying what they decided. They’ve discussed 11 more counts, but appear deadlocked on some. And they have not yet gotten to 11 counts of wire fraud. The judge then told the jury to resume deliberations.
Blagojevich is 53 years old. If he is convicted on all counts, he could face $6 million in fines and 415 years in prison.
HARI SREENIVASAN: A federal judge has delayed resuming gay marriage ceremonies in California until at least next Wednesday. The same judge ruled last week that a voter-approved ban on same-sex unions known as Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. Today’s ruling gave opponents of gay marriage more time to ask a federal appeals court to intervene.
Wall Street struggled again today, and ended with a third straight losing session. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost nearly 59 points to close below 10,320. The Nasdaq fell 18 points to close at 2,190.
And the price of oil dropped for a third day, falling below $76 a barrel. It’s down almost eight percent in the last week.
The U.S. Senate has given final approval to $600 million for more agents and equipment along the Mexican border. The voice vote came in a brief special session in a nearly empty chamber. It was only the second time since 1970 the Senate has reconvened during an August break. The legislation now goes to President Obama for his signature.
The president of Pakistan visited the country’s flood zone today more than two weeks after the crisis began. He toured areas around the city of Sukkur in the south, where many refugees say they had no warning of the flood danger.
We have a report from Jonathan Miller of Independent Television News.
JONATHAN MILLER, Independent Television News: The bridge from which we’re filming clubbed with vehicles evacuating those escaping the flood zone. One-third of the country affected, more than two million people forced from their homes, and with nowhere to go, hoping their government will come to the rescue.
While we were filming, President Asif Ali Zardari at the barrage on his first visit to flooded areas since the catastrophe enveloped Pakistan two weeks ago. The only TV cameras accompanying the president were from state TV. It was a carefully staged managed event. He briefly got out to look at the water before being briefed by provincial officials.
The government has said it will compensate flood victims, but what’s on offer won’t match the value of homes, livestock and lost crops. And as I discovered, there’s another problem: banditry, for which part of Sindh is notorious.
WOMAN (through translated): I am chief of my tribe. When we escaped, we were robbed of everything we had. A truck driver took pity on us and brought us here .
WOMAN (through translator): When the flood came I was preparing meals for the children. I just ran with them but we were robbed. I still don’t know what happened to my husband.
JONATHAN MILLER: It’s a pretty grim camp wedged between a busy road and a canal, and it’s open to the elements. It is also a very unhealthy place. People are sick. There’s no hygiene to speak of.
Today, Save the Children warned that if this health crisis in Sindh is not tackled fast, millions of children will contract deadly diseases.
HARI SREENIVASAN: More than 1,500 people have died in the Pakistan floods, and the U.N. estimates as many as seven million need assistance.
Today, a U.S. Navy ship carrying helicopters and 1,000 U.S. Marines arrived off of Karachi to boost relief efforts.
Hundreds of angry villagers in eastern Afghanistan protested today after an overnight raid by U.S. troops. Protesters blocked a main road for several hours, burned trucks, and shouted, “Death to the United States!” The villagers accused the soldiers of storming a family home and killing three innocent brothers. NATO insisted those killed were insurgents who pointed their weapons at the troops.
Iraq may need the U.S. forces there for another 10 years. That warning came today from the country’s senior general. He said the Iraqi military might not be able to maintain security on its own until 2020.
The U.S. officially ends its combat role in Iraq this month, drawing down to 50,000 troops. Under current plans, all of them are expected to be gone by the end of 2011.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.
Now back to Jeff.