Thursday Reads: Trayvon Martin Updates, Etch-a-Sketch Romney, the NFL, and Lots More

Crimson Corner Newsstand, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA

Good Morning!! I just have to share the news that summer has come to Boston. We’ve had three days straight of bright sun and temperatures in the high 70s, and tomorrow it will be in the mid-80s! Summer in March! My forsythia is coming out, perennials are sprouting along my front walk. It’s just amazing. We had no winter and now Summer has arrived in mid-March. Ecstacy!!

All right, enough about my world, let’s get to the news.

The national outrage over the murder of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida three weeks ago has grown from a low growl on the internet last weekend to a deafening roar on social, alternative, and mainstream media by last night. I’ve heard a number of people referring to this murder as a modern day Emmett Till case. It’s very hard to believe that George Zimmerman still has not been arrested. I hope the authorities know where he is.

Martin’s parents were at The Million Hoodie March in New York last night, and around the same time, the Sanford, Florida City Commission

The Sanford City Commission passed a vote of “no confidence” in police Chief Bill Lee Wednesday night.

Lee became a target of advocates pleading for justice in the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin at the hands of neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman last week.

After the 3-2 commission vote, City Manager Norton N. Bonaparte Jr. will decide whether to ask for the chief’s resignation or fire him. If Bonaparte decides to do neither, he can then be held accountable for any future problems with the chief.

From the LA Times:

Dozens of Sanford residents gathered in the Sanford City Hall, where City Commissioner Mark McCarty set the tone for the meeting by noting that he had called for Police Chief Bill Lee’s ouster 10 days earlier in a meeting with the city manager, Norton N. Bonaparte Jr….

McCarty said questions surrounding the case, and the negative publicity cast upon the city since the killing, were largely the result of mishandling of the investigation. The questions, he said, include whether police were too quick to accept Zimmerman’s claim that he fired in self-defense, despite the fact that Martin was unarmed and that witnesses described hearing someone wailing for help before a gunshot rang out.

The LA Times article also reports that two neighbors have said they saw Zimmerman pinning Martin face down on the ground. One woman, Mary Cutcher, said in an interview on CNN: “If it was self-defense, why was he [Zimmerman] on Trayvon’s back?”

While surfing for news last night, I found an article in the Houston Chronicle by an African American mother of teenagers, Gina Carroll. It’s called “Why I Cannot Write about Trayvon Martin.”

Carroll lives in a nice neighborhood, in gated community; and her children have been repeatedly harrassed by law enforcement. Her son was put up against a car and searched at gunpoint by police who wanted to know what he was doing there. Here daughter was followed and then stopped by a “neighborhood patrolman” because she was carrying a lacrosse stick that he assumed to be a rifle. She was asked what she was doing in the neighborhood. And there was this:

Not too long ago my teenagers were returning home late from a party. The neighborhood patrol followed them through the neighborhood , through the gates of our house and into our driveway.

“What are you doing here?” the officer asked.

“We live here.” My son replied.

“Oh, your mother works here?” the officer asked.

[Indignant pause by children. Deep breath. Anger suppressed]

“No, my parents own this house.” My son said.

[indignant pause by officer. Quizzical look.]

“Then I’d better let you kids get home. It’s late.” Officer says and exits.

Apparently law enforcement types assume African American teenagers (even girls) to be suspicious characters. They don’t all end of dead, but how many George Zimmermans are out there? He can’t be unique.

New information has come out about George Zimmerman. Zimmerman has a history of vigilantism and violence. From The Daily Beast:

In 2003, he gave chase when he saw a man steal a television from a supermarket, following the shoplifter until police could catch up. Zimmerman followed another man a year later, saying the man had spit on him.

Zimmerman’s record becomes spottier over the following years as he had a handful of run-ins with the law. In July 2005, Zimmerman was arrested after a tussle with law enforcement outside of a bar near the University of Central Florida. It was a first offense, and Zimmerman got off with a pretrial diversion program.

It seems that Zimmerman was not even registered as an official neighborhood watchman.

The National Sheriffs’ Association, which runs the Neighborhood Watch Program, said it has “no information indicating the community where the incident occurred has ever even registered with the NSA Neighborhood Watch program,” NSA executive director Aaron D. Kennard said in a statement.

But by all accounts, Zimmerman took the job seriously. He made close to 50 911 calls between Jan. 1, 2011, and the evening of the shooting to report suspicious characters in his neighborhood, a 260-unit housing complex that is almost 50 percent white with Hispanic and African-American populations of about 20 percent each….The reaction to the shooting among community residents seems to have been mixed. Cynthia Wibker, secretary for the homeowner’s association, told reporters that Zimmerman’s actions once led to the arrest of a thief. “He helped solve a lot of crimes,” she said.

The Orlando Sentinel dug up records that showed Zimmerman had been involved in violence in a relationship.

The court records concern a conflict between Zimmerman and his ex-fiancée, who filed a petition accusing Zimmerman of pushing her during an argument at her Orlando home in August 2005. During the altercation, the woman’s dog reportedly bit Zimmerman’s cheek. The two each filed court petitions and had wildly different stories about what happened. The woman said Zimmerman had assaulted her; he claimed she was the violent one.

Zimmerman accused the woman in his petition of cursing at and striking him, and said she refused to give him documents, including mortgage papers and car-loan documents, that belonged to him.

He said she caused the wounds to his face that she blamed on her dog. Both Zimmerman and his ex-fiancée reported in their petitions that the fight wasn’t the first incident of violence between them.

The ex-fiancée reported that Zimmerman had “open handed smacked” her in the mouth and berated her during an argument in January 2003.

In November 2002, Zimmerman claimed his ex had assaulted him with a baseball bat after he went to a concert without her.

The same month, the woman said, Zimmerman became angry when she came home later than usual one night. He began groping her and “said he could because I was his woman,” she wrote.

Now that we know Zimmerman tried to blame Trayvon Martin for initiating violence, I tend to believe the woman. In fact I read last night that Zimmerman actually claimed he was returning to his truck when Martin attacked him from behind.

The other big story last night was Romney adviser Eric Ferntstrom’s “etch-a-sketch” gaffe. Think Progress:

Appearing on CNN this morning, Romney Communications Director Eric Fehrnstrom was asked if he’s concerned that Romney may alienate general election voters with some of the hard-right positions he’s taken during the primary to appeal to conservatives. Fehrnstrom brushed this concern off:

HOST: Is there a concern that Santorum and Gingrich might force the governor to tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election?

FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all of over again.

Amazing. And if you didn’t watch Rachel Maddow’s show last night, please try to watch it on-line. She ripped Romney stem to stern with a lengthy recounting of his many bald-faced lies during the campaign, saying he might be the most blatant liar of any candidate in recent memory. Raw Story reported on it:

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Wednesday night blasted former Massachussetts Gov. Mitt Romney, accusing the Republican presidential candidate of being a serial liar.

“This is hard to talk about in the day to day news context, because there are such low expectations for politicians being truthful and because the word ‘lie’ is both under-used and over-used to the point where everybody is a little touchy about it,” she said.

“But the degree to which Mr. Romney lies, all the time, about all sorts of stuff, and doesn’t seem to care when he gets caught is maybe the single most notable thing about his campaign.”

Here’s some sort of good news. A new Pew poll found that Americans are getting tired of politicians who talk about religion all the time and also with churches meddling in politics. Reuters:

Americans are increasingly uneasy with the mingling of religion and politics, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center, in the midst of a campaign season punctuated by tussles over the role of faith in the public square.

Back in 2001, when Pew first asked the question, just 12 percent of Americans complained that their politicians talked too much about religion.

That number has risen steadily ever since and hit a record high in the new poll: 38 percent of Americans, including 24 percent of Republicans, now say their political leaders are overdoing it with their expressions of faith and prayer.

And more Americans than ever, 54 percent, believe churches should keep out of politics. That’s up from 43 percent in 1996, according to the Pew Research Center.

I hope the Catholic Bishops are paying attention.

There’s a lot of sports news. Thank goodness, Tim Tebow won’t be coming to New England. He’s been traded to the Jets as of last night. And the New Orleans Saints have been heavily penalized by the Commissioner for their so-called “bounty” policy, in which money was offered to players who could knock an opposing player unconscious or have one carried off the field on a stretcher.

The NFL suspended [Head Coach Sean] Payton for an entire season without pay beginning on April Fool’s Day for lying and trying to cover up the Saints’ bounty system designed to take players out. Goodell suspended Saints general manager Mickey Loomis for the first eight regular season games of 2012 and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for the first six games. Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was banned from the league indefinitely. The Saints also lost a second-round pick in the next two drafts. Saints players may also be suspended as between 22 and 27 of them are involved, according to the NFL’s investigation.

Wow! Apparently Goodall is very serious about cutting down on player injuries.

As of late last night, police in Toulouse were in a standoff with Mohammed Merah, the man who shot and killed seven people over eight days in Southwest France. From the WaPo:

PARIS — Under orders to seize him alive, French anti-terrorism forces engaged in marathon negotiations Wednesday with a young Islamist accused of killing three soldiers, three Jewish schoolchildren and a rabbi during an eight-day string of point-blank shootings in southwest France.

The standoff began in a blaze of gunfire as paramilitary forces approached the suspect’s apartment in a working-class neighborhood of Toulouse at 3 a.m. Wednesday. Two policemen were wounded in the initial burst, one in the shoulder and the other in the knee, and the suspect warned that he had several weapons and knew how to use them.

At that point, the situation turned into a waiting game, with the suspect behind his door and police negotiators trying to persuade him to surrender. The standoff continued late into Wednesday night, as riot police set off small explosions outside the building, blowing off its shutters to pressure the man to surrender, the Associated Press reported.

UPDATE: French shooting suspect Mohammed Merah is dead. After police stormed his home, he jumped out a window, still shooting, killing himself.

So…. what are you reading and blogging about today?


34 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Trayvon Martin Updates, Etch-a-Sketch Romney, the NFL, and Lots More”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    I’m still laughing over the “Etch a Sketch” statement which is nothing new when it concerns Romney. And Rachel was right on target in her assessment last night: the man lies about everything!

    From “marching” with his father for civil rights which happened before he was born to his membership in the NRA to his stand on positions which has taken a 180 turn he is just not somone to take seriously.

    Having no core principles Romney “massages” the truth to suit his audience and had there been a moderate GOP contender in the race Mittens would have been sent packing long before.

    The GOP primary voters have turned to just about “anyone else” but he is the last man standing that isn’t certifiably nuts so he wins the prize.

    An example of what money can buy when you have nothing else to offer, Mittens has demonstrated that the absence of base beliefs means nothing as he twists and turns his way to the top.

    • jmacwa says:

      Not saying I disagree with anything you are saying, but this is different from what we saw in 2008 with Obama how exactly?

      I.E. What we heard from the Communications director was the truth. Say what you want to get your parties nomination first, than say what you want to get elected, then govern to please those who paid for your election (I know this last bit wasn’t stated).

      • bostonboomer says:

        Romney has been far worse than Obama ever was, despite all Obama’s turnarounds and lies.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        It isn’t.

        That’s what makes is so onerous.

      • RalphB says:

        I have to agree with BB. Obama was nowhere close to as huge a liar as Romney. Most of Obama’s lies were of the normal “I did blah” type, whereas Romney literally lies about everything. Romney lies when he doesn’t have to and that’s just incredible!

    • peggysue22 says:

      Just popping in for a headline scan. The Etch-a-Sketch gaffe was too much. A political operative tells the truth! Wonders will never cease. So, we have two liars running for POTUS in 2012–President Obama, the anti-FDR and Romney, the candidate who represents the 19th century party. Ooooo, what a choice. The Duopoly rides again.

      Worse, short of Hillary Clinton I don’t see a genuine leader on the horizon. Both parties are compromised to the nth degree, bought and sold. We are so screwed!

      Good round up, BB. Kept me current on a crazy day!

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Obama can’t hold a candle to the shapeshifter, Willard Mitt Gumbney

      • RalphB says:

        Hi, Mouse 🙂

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Hey Ralph. Good to see ya. I’ve really enjoyed reading all the comments here today, especially the comments about good-ole etch-a-sketch. I can’t wait to see Gumbney’s General Election pivot positions, no doubt there will be some prime satire material generated as he sprints back to the middle. We should really enjoy this. 🙂

    • foxyladi14 says:

      “Etch a Sketch” :lol; :lol;

  2. Delphyne says:

    Speaking of weather – I just got back from my walk with my dog and here is what we saw (which wasn’t there when we took our afternoon walk yesterday): the berry bushes have flowers on them; the fallen oak tree from the hurricane, with half of its root ball out of the earth, has blossoms on it; the mayapples seem to have sprung up overnight – yesterday, we spied one, this morning there are hundreds and they are over 4 inches; my neighbor’s azalea is full of buds; trout lilies galore. Magic seems to have happened overnight!

    The forsythias have been out for about a week, the magnolia trees are in full bloom and the ornamental fruit trees are just spectacular. And it is March 22. And I am not complaining – in fact, the entire spectacle makes me smile.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Isn’t it wonderful? The magnolia tree at my brother’s house was in full bloom yesterday, and there were crocuses and daffodils in blooming in the backyard. Amazing!

      • Pat Johnson says:

        I’m thrilled that we escaped a repeat of the brutal winter here in 2011. However, if it is 70 degrees now in March what will July and August feel like?

        I’ve had my windows open thoroughly enjoying the fresh air seeping through but my concern is focused on this Summer as everything seems to be a little out of whack for this time of year.

        This weather pattern is kind of unusual.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Yes, it’s unusual, but we have had high temps in March before. I recall a couple of days in 1986 when it was in the low 90s in March. I remember because it was right after we moved into this house.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Sponsors of Florida “stand your ground” law say George Zimmerman should be arrested.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s a live stream where you can watch an eagle’s nest in Decorah, Iowa. The eggs could hatch over the weekend.

  5. mjames says:

    Hey, bb, just dropping by to say lucky you on avoiding Tebow Mania. Unfortunately, he’s headed to my team (well, not my team any longer). I do not understand why the Jets acquired the holier-than-thou, Bible-toting “virgin” (my ass – and who cares anyway?) who CANNOT throw the ball. Nor do I understand why all the sports pundits are saying NYC will love him. NYers are serious about their sports. They expect performance on the field. Just ask crybaby Alex Rodriguez. This is going to be a nightmare. The Jets were divided before this – and they expect Tebow to unite them? Tebow? Let me repeat: the guy cannot throw the ball. A guy who cannot throw the ball and worships Focus on the Family, a truly vile “religion” if there ever was one, is going to be a uniter? What were they thinking?

    The Martin case is heartbreaking. Just heartbreaking. That Zimmerman is one sick dude. So massively insecure that he needed to kill a little black kid to feel like a man. But I will say this. There has definitely been progress from the days I worked as a public defender in NYC. Back then, in cases like this, no one had a chance for justice – ever. Now, with the Internet, these horrific injustices are coming to the forefront. And most people, except for the hard right and the NRA, see this case for exactly what it is: the hunting and killing of a targeted prey. OMG

    • RalphB says:

      Thanks to the internet and social media, the local cops couldn’t just cover this up like in the past. It’s definite progress. Now if only the killing would stop out of fear of the net, that would be real progress.

    • RalphB says:

      Count me as not surprised. Wouldn’t it be great to have had President Edwards? It boggles the mind.

  6. RalphB says:

    Wingnuts strikes again. WTF is wrong with these people?

    Senate Republicans propose interstate concealed-weapon bill

    Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and 28 other Senate Republicans on Tuesday introduced a bill that would allow people authorized to carry concealed weapons in their home state to do the same in other states that allow concealed carry, without requiring a federal permit.

  7. RalphB says:

    In a 5-4 decision, the Republican justices get in on the bash women act.

    C&L: Supreme Court Voids Part of Family Leave Act

    State workers who are denied unpaid sick leave required by federal law cannot sue the states, the Supreme Court said in a victory for states’ rights that some liberal advocates saw as a bad omen for President Obama’s healthcare law.

    The 5-4 decision is a setback for millions of employees of state agencies and state colleges, and it voided in part a provision in the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. Among other things the act said that employees had a right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to recover from an illness or childbirth.

    The rights of employees of private companies are unchanged by the ruling.
    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, on behalf of Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, took the rare step of reading her dissent aloud in court. She called the result “regrettable” and observed that the Kennedy opinion “pays scant attention to the overarching aim” of the law, which was “to make it feasible for women to work while sustaining family life.” Ginsburg said that the law was a reasonable effort by congress to ensure the equal protection guaranteed by the 14th amendment for public employees facing discrimination.

    • The Rock says:

      Good catch Ralph. I’m not sure the electorate understands how important this election is. As useless as Bumbles is, his 2 Supreme Court picks (while neither is Judge Diane Lane out of Chicago, someone that would be a WONDERFUL replacement for Justice Ginsberg), neither has tacked to the right in their court decisions. A conservative court in the 7-2 numbers would, along with a conservative congress, gut this nation like a butcher in the morning.


      Hillary 2012

      • RalphB says:

        I agree with that. If Obama isn’t reelected, I doubt we’ll recognize this country within 4 years time.

  8. RalphB says:

    Great rant from Angry Black Lady Chronicles. Just priceless.

    Cathy McMorris-Rodgers Thinks Democrats Are Scaring Women

  9. bostonboomer says:

    Al Sharpton’s mother died this morning in Alabama, but he will still be at the rally in Florida tonight.

    That’s dedication.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Sanford city manager will hold a news conference at 3PM this afternoon. He is the only person who can fire Chief of police Bill Lee, according to MSNBC.

  11. The Rock says:

    Great roundup BB!
    I don’t think that Tebow was ever on Belichek’s short list. He doesn’t really favor the wildcat, and Brady needs a running game, which it looks like they are targeting in the draft. I’m going to miss the law firm of BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He served as a very secure ball handler. I think the Bengals will make good use of him and kudos to him getting a nice contract.
    Trayvon Martin. What else is there to say? Zimmermann is a lying piece of dog excrement and I hope the inmates at his future home are taking in all that is going on. The police chief deserves to be right next to him in jail. Asshats.
    The disheartening thing about the ‘Etch-a-Sketch’ gaffe is that the ‘gaffe’ was actually the truth. That is how they plan to run their campaign. I’m pretty sure that the low voter turnout is indicative of the current feeling about the GOP’s candidates. Sadly, THAT IS WHO THEY FEEL IS MOST SUITED TO RUN THIS COUNTRY. *smdh* Like peggysue, I only see Hillary as the most competent politician eligible to be president, and in the leadership, and all we have are mice playing like they are men.she isnt running, bless her soul. With the conflict in the ME simmering, a stagnant economy, an assault on the rights of women, an epidemic of hatred toward public workers, an infrastucture that is falling apart, etc., we NEED a titan in the leadership. All we HAVE are mice PLAYING like they are big men.

    We are so f*(&d.

    Hillary 2012

    I don’t think I say it often enough, but thanks frontpagers!!!!!

  12. janicen says:

    Just when you thought you’d heard every horrible thing about the Catholic Church…