Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

I know some people are probably tired of hearing about the Trayvon Martin murder, but IMHO this case is every bit as important as the Supreme Court hearing arguments about the health care bill.

We live in a country in which suspicion still falls on African Americans even when they are just walking on the sidewalk or driving down the street. We live in a country in which the police can beat and kill and rape and and get away with it. We live in the land of “the new Jim Crow” in which “the mass incarceration of African American men”  is the latest state weapon in our nation’s long and bloody history of vicious racial violence.

How far have we really come when a young boy can be shot in cold blood and the shooter isn’t arrested or even tested for drugs and alcohol?

Over the weekend, the second stage of the Trayvon Martin media circus kicked into gear. That’s the part where various interested parties use the media to defend George Zimmerman–the man who thought a skinny 140-pound 17-year old boy walking home from the store looked “up to no good” and “like he’s on drugs,” and so chose to stalk and then kill the boy in cold blood. The Zimmerman rehabilitation campaign has consisted mostly of smearing the unarmed teenager who can no longer defend himself because he’s dead.

For the past three days, there has been a deliberate campaign to paint Trayvon Martin as a terrifying aggressor who deserved to die and George Zimmerman as a victim who was in terror of Martin and was forced to shoot him at point-blank range. Minx summarized much of the smear campaign in her evening reads last night. But here are a couple of things she didn’t mention:

Mail Online: Anonymous witness claims Martin attacked Zimmerman before the fatal shooting

The witness told FOX 35 in Orlando that he saw evidence of a fight between Martin and Zimmerman, which could lend credence to the gunman’s claim that he was acting in self-defence.
‘The guy on the bottom who had a red sweater on was yelling to me: “Help, help… and I told him to stop and I was calling 911,’ he said.

Zimmerman was wearing a red sweater; Martin was in a grey hoodie.
He added: ‘When I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on top beating up the

Really? And did this witness call 911? If so, we haven’t heard the tape of it yet.  Furthermore, this “new witness” isn’t even new. These same quotes were reported by Fox Orlando on February 27. But never mind, the quotes are helpful to Zimmerman, so they’re being reported as “new.”

An attorney, Craig Sonner, who says he is “advising” Zimmerman, but doesn’t yet “represent” him, has been making the rounds of the TV talk shows along with Joe Oliver, a former (maybe present?) TV news reporter, who says he is a close friend of Zimmerman’s and has known him for six years (actually Oliver’s wife is a friend of Zimmerman’s mother-in-law; it’s not clear how well Oliver knew Zimmerman before the shooting).

Sonner has been telling anyone who will listen that Trayvon broke George’s nose and cut open the back of his head, but yesterday we learned that Trayvon supposedly sucker-punched George in the nose, knocked him to the ground and then bashed his head against the sidewalk repeatedly. None of this was in the official police report.

Oliver says that George “couldn’t stop crying” for days after the shooting and he is now being treated for PTSD. Oliver says that George is very remorseful. He doesn’t say why George hasn’t contacted Trayvon’s parents to tell them he’s sorry about killing their son. In fact, Oliver even claims that if George hadn’t shot Trayvon, Trayvon would have killed George. Even though Trayvon was armed only with Skittles and iced tea.

Oh, and BTW, Oliver is an African American man. Therefore his close friend George Zimmerman could not possibly have been responding to racial stereotypes on the night of the shooting. AND, Oliver thinks calling someone a “fucking coon” is something to be proud of. And you don’t buy that, maybe Zimmerman was saying “fucking goons,” which is a “term of endearment” according to Oliver’s daughter.

All I can say is, I need to see pictures of Zimmerman’s injuries. I also need to have someone explain to me why Trayvon didn’t have a right to “stand his ground” and defend himself against an imposing 250-pound stranger who was stalking him with a gun.

Yesterday, the Zimmerman defense/smear campaign really doubled down, as the Sanford Police leaked information designed to smear the dead boy. Not to be outdone, the Miami/Dade School Police leaked selected portions of Trayvon’s private school records. Nothing about Trayvon acting violently, but hey–that will probably come out today, right? And all these leaks, along with the Sonner-Oliver media tour, are designed to make us forget that Trayvon Martin is DEAD at the hands of George Zimmerman.

I think this is a pretty good summary of the Zimmerman defense:

My client George Zimmerman is a very vulnerable individual weighing only 250 pounds. Fragile and delicate like a petite, gamine ballet dancer. His assailant Trayvon Martin was over 100 pounds lighter — making him much more agile and dangerous. Furthermore Trayvon Martin was armed with a bag of Skittles AND an iced tea. These are lethal weapons. It is no wonder that my client felt so threatened. And quite understandably felt that his life was in danger.

Read the rest  of the “Monty Python twinkie defense” at Huffpo.

There were two witnesses who did some media appearances in support of Trayvon Martin–Mary Cutcher and Selma Lamilla, but their efforts were mostly drowned out by the Zimmerman defense/smear campaign.

Cutcher and her roommate, Selma Lamilla, say they went outside when they heard the gunshot and saw Zimmerman standing over Martin.

“We both saw him straddling the body, basically, a foot on both sides of Trayvon’s body and his hands pressed on his back,” Cutcher said.

Cutcher says Zimmerman told her and her roommate to call the police.

“Zimmerman never turned him over or tried to help him or CPR or anything,” Cutcher said.

Lamilla said that after the shot was fired Zimmerman appeared to be pacing.

“He started walking back and forth like three times with his hand on the head and kind of, he was walking like kind of confused,” she said.

Lamilla said he was touching his head like “he was in shock.”

Police who responded to the scene noted that Zimmerman had injuries to his face and head.

When Lamilla was able to see who had been shot, she was stunned.

“And for me was a shock to see, ‘Oh my God, that it’s a kid. So skinny, no more than 20- years- old. So skinny, like baby faced,” Lamilla said.

Cutcher also told various media outlets that she had a really hard time getting the Sanford Police to listen to her story or even return her phone calls.

I’ve got a few more headlines to share. The first one is somewhat related to the Martin case. Another black teenager has been shot and killed by civilian neighborhood security guards, this time in Georgia. The two men, Curtis Scott and Gary Jackson have been arrested, but only for impersonating police officers so far.

Scott and Jackson, security guards for the apartment complex, were checking out a suspicious vehicle and had detained four women. They told the women they were police officers….the investigation shows that’s when the guards heard gunshots from a nearby residence. Around the same time, Ervin Jefferson, 18, pulled up to the scene.

The guards told police Jefferson approached them “aggressively and possibly even threatened to kill them.” ….that’s when Scott fired his gun at Jefferson, striking him once. The guard called 911.

Jefferson’s mother says she then saw the security guards hit her son with their car and drive over him. Police claim that Jefferson crawled under the car. Jefferson was declared dead at the hospital.

Ben Bernanke signaled yesterday that interest rates will remain low, because of the need to stimulate more job growth. Of course he means interest rates for the banksters, not regular people’s credit card or student loan rates. On the strength of that news, Wall Street surged.

Wall Street’s addiction to free money is on full display today.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up more than 100 points at lunchtime on the East Coast, while the Nasdaq was up more than one percent and the S&P 500 was up nearly one percent.

The primary reason? Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made some notably downbeat comments about the economy today, seeming to put the kibosh on market expectations that the Fed could raise interest rates sooner rather than later.

Bernanke’s dedication to low rates also means the Fed is still capable of launching its third round of quantitative easing — buying up every bond that’s not nailed down in an effort to pump more cash into the economy. Pimco chief Bill Gross tweeted today that he thinks the Fed will hint at more QE, or “QE3,” in April. Of course, Gross stands to gain by cheerleading investors into thinking the Fed will buy more bonds, because Pimco has been buying bonds in a heavy bet on QE3, Reuters notes.

No word on when anyone in DC will do anything for us “small people.”

France has charged Dominique Strauss-Kahn in connection with a prostitution ring.

Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was charged in France on Monday with “aggravated pimping” for his alleged participation in a prostitution ring, prosecutors said.

He is not allowed to have contact with other people involved in the investigation, nor is he permitted to talk to the media about the case. Strauss-Kahn was released under a 100,000-euro bail, according to prosecutors.

Rick Santorum kind of lost it yesterday: Rick Santorum’s nice-guy persona is turning a bit testy lately

For a while, it had seemed that Rick Santorum’s crabby days were behind him. Gone were the sarcastic potshots at reporters and peevish outbursts aimed at his political opponents. He had transformed into the Mr. Rogers of the presidential race: good-natured, self-deprecating and downright likable.

But that nice-guy image has gone down the drain lately, with a series of provocative remarks and testy exchanges that have coincided with his slipping presidential fortunes. He may have hit a low point Sunday, when he uttered an expletive in response to a question from a New York Times reporter.

Asked what he meant when he said in a speech that rival Mitt Romney was the “worst Republican in the country” to go up against President Obama, Santorum lashed back at reporter Jeff Zeleny in an exchange that was captured by CBS.

“Stop lying!” he responded. “I said he was the worst Republican to run on the issue of Obamacare. And that’s what I was talking about!” In case there was any doubt that he meant it, he suggested that if he saw such a statement in print, it would amount to “bull—-.”

Finally, I got a kick out of this story in The Independent: Hippies head for Noah’s Ark: Queue here for rescue aboard alien spaceship

A rapidly increasing stream of New Age believers – or esoterics, as locals call them – have descended in their camper van-loads on the usually picturesque and tranquil Pyrenean village of Bugarach. They believe that when apocalypse strikes on 21 December this year, the aliens waiting in their spacecraft inside Pic de Bugarach will save all the humans near by and beam them off to the next age.

As the cataclysmic date – which, according to eschatological beliefs and predicted astrological alignments, concludes a 5,125-year cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar – nears, the goings-on around the peak have become more bizarre and ritualistic.

For decades, there has been a belief that Pic de Bugarach, which, at 1,230 metres, is the highest in the Corbières mountain range, possesses an eery power. Often called the “upside-down mountain” – geologists think that it exploded after its formation and the top landed the wrong way up – it is thought to have inspired Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Since the 1960s, it has attracted New Agers, who insist that it emits special magnetic waves.

Further, rumours persist that the country’s late president François Mitterrand was transported by helicopter on to the peak, while the Nazis, and, later, Israel’s Mossad, performed mysterious digs there. Now the nearby village is awash with New Agers, who have boosted the local economy, though their naked group climbs up to the peak have raised concerns as well as eyebrows. Among other oddities, some hikers have been spotted scaling the mountain carrying a ball with a golden ring, strung together by a single thread.

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


27 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    Wow, what a post BB! And I think you are right about the importance of this Trayvon Martin case. Thanks for mentioning the Georgia killing… You know when you buy a new car, and as you drive around you realize just how many are on the road, it seems like everyone has the same new car. That is how I feel about all this…I know these killings and deaths have been going on for decades, but with my heighten sense of awareness from the Trayvon murder…it is like everywhere I look I see another young black man dead on the ground.

    I would also add to that new Jim Crow…the color brown, as in immigrants. Georgia is following in Alabama’s footsteps as far as that goes. Azadeh Shahshahani: Newest Anti-Immigrant Law Will Further Damage Georgia

    Just when it seemed that Georgia was coming to grips with the damage caused by HB 87, the state’s Arizona-inspired anti-immigrant law, some lawmakers are again attempting to rush through new measures that would further marginalize and exclude immigrants from our community.

    SB 458 is moving quickly through the state legislature and includes two especially troubling provisions. One would ban undocumented students from all public universities and colleges in Georgia, even though they are paying out of state tuition. The stakes are high in that many of these exemplary youth will either be forced out of the state to pursue schooling elsewhere or abandon their dreams altogether.

    The second provision buried in the bill may seem technical in nature, but is actually quite insidious and broad sweeping. Lawmakers now aim to prohibit state and local governments from accepting many foreign passports as proof of identification. In effect, both immigrants and foreign tourists would be unable to prove their identity in a wide range of interactions, denying them entrance to certain government buildings, taking away services as essential as water and sewage, and even thwarting their ability to marry — a fundamental constitutional right. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked provisions with similar effect in Alabama earlier this month.

    Why is the legislature messing with foreign passports? HB 87 required the Attorney General (AG) to publish a list of “secure and verifiable documents” and outlawed the acceptance of any other identity documents by state and local governments. The AG was hardly going out on a limb when he placed foreign passports on his list. After all, passports are accepted by the federal Transportation Security Administration for airplane travel, where security is tantamount.

    Apparently, some Georgia legislators think they know better by striking foreign passports from the AG’s list of “secure and verifiable documents” unless the passport is submitted with “a valid United States Homeland Security Form I-94 or I-94A or other federal document specifying an alien’s lawful immigration status.”

    But this seemingly technical change would not just affect undocumented immigrants. Foreign visitors from countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program do not have the forms required by the bill. What do the politicians supporting this bill have against British, Swedish, and Japanese tourists? Does Georgia really want to discourage foreign tourism from thirty-six of the world’s wealthiest countries by sending a message to travelers that they better watch out because their passports are no good as ID in Georgia?

    Oh, and this last sentence from the “hippie” story:

    Among other oddities, some hikers have been spotted scaling the mountain carrying a ball with a golden ring, strung together by a single thread.

    Made me think of Monty Python…a five ounce bird can’t carry a one pound coconut…what if two African swallows carried it together…they could string in on a line. Swallow Scenes

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    My issue is with the wall to wall coverage of the Trayvon Martin tragedy. As if nothing else is going on in the world.

    Last night a group of militants were interviewed, offering a 1 million dollar bounty placed on the head of George Zimmerman.

    So much of this is getting out of hand and justice itself is being buried under the rhetoric. No question a tragedy took place. No question that justice may not have been served. But vigilante justice is not going to settle the matter which is a concern.

    As for Rick Santorum, he just planted his “creds” by taking on a NY Times reporter by posing as Newt Gingrich. As much as he claims to dislike and distrust Romney, apparently he is willing to serve as his vice president if asked.

    • peggysue22 says:

      I saw the piece on Santorum, calling out the NYT reporter. And Oooooo, he said ‘bullshit,’ too. Guess, he’s trying for an-attack-the-liberal-press moment. But the desperation is really showing when he said he’d consider a VP spot. Ryan, the Economic Wonder-Boy, has said the same thing. Of course, Ryan’s budget for as much as it’s being cheered, relies on growth figures that are pure fairytale. But hey, why dispute the details???

      Great morning opener, BB. The ‘New Jim Crow’ meme really deserves more attention. When I was researching a former post, the stats really startled me. The US represents 5% of the world’s population and yet we have 25% of the world’s prison population, the vast majority of which are people of color. The push for prison privatization requires a 95-98% occupancy rate for optimum profits.

      Something is seriously, seriously wrong with this picture.

      And all this in a climate when the Far Right does nothing but scream how ‘Liberty’ is being threatened on all fronts.

      Meanwhile, Pierce had a photo up yesterday on his blog featuring people on their knees in front of the Supreme Court. Everything is being turned into a major religious question. That’s no accident. The Republicans are being exposed for who they really are.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        You would think these people would have more of a response to the insurance industry who withhold treatment from patients and are able to raise prices at anytime they wish.

        Should this “reform”, and I use this term loosely be overturned, many will fall by the wayside. Particularly those with pre exisiting conditions. What happens then?

        Universal Healthcare is the only answer but few in congress will touch it simply because of the massive lobbying that is a daily staple of their existence. Instead they focus attention on the issue of a “mandate” which is alive and well across the nation when it comes to home owners and car insurance.

        Allowing people to “not pay” just places the burden on the rest who do. Doctors and hospitals are going to be paid either way.

        Burying the need for healthcare under religion and calls for freedom is a far cry from an industry who takes 30 to 38% off the top before payment is issued to providers.

        When I was first hired by the hospital I worked for for 30 years, it was not unheard of for someone to call an ambulance to be transported to the ER for treatment for monthly cramps!

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks, Peggy Sue!

    • bostonboomer says:

      The Rick Santorum story is in my post too…

  3. ANonOMouse says:

    Another fact of the Trayvon Martin story that is being overlooked and/or dismissed is that Trayvon’s girlfriend is the best defense against Zimmerman’s claim/defense that he was walking away and Trayvon pursued him. She stated that Trayvon had fled and that Zimmerman found and confronted Trayvon and that she heard Zimmerman ask “what are you doing here” WTF? That makes no sense whatsoever if Trayvon was pursuing Zimmerman. Then the girlfriend heard the sound of pushing and apparently Trayvon’s cell-headset fell off. She attempted to call Trayvon back, but he didn’t answer and we basically know the rest of the story. 2 witnesses saw Mr.Zimmerman straddling Trayvon’s body immediately after hearing the gunshot. Why? Was he making sure Trayvon was dead after shooting him at point blank range? Dead me tell no tales.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      There should be as much outcry against the law that makes it easier to shoot someone simply for looking cross eyed at another person.

      The issue is the law itself that finds purchase in the mind of someone like Zimmerman who felt “justified” in using a weapon by shooting first and asking questions later.

      Had there been no gun involved the outcome may have been much different. The easy accesability to carrying a gun, and the law that supports “stand your ground” which is essentially a “permission slip” to shoot at will with claims of “self defense”, is at the heart of this tragedy.

      Chances are Zimmerman would not have been out on “Neighborhood Patrol” had he not had the excuse of a gun in his pocket.

      The murkiness of his defense can be found within the law itself along with the mindset that carrying a weapon is “protection” in itself.

      • janicen says:

        Well said, Pat. We need to examine and change these ridiculous laws that protect the likes of Zimmerman and put innocents at risk before the next horrifying event.

    • bostonboomer says:

      ANonOMouse,

      I agree. Right now, both sides are trying to establish their own points of view. I only hope that the state investigation won’t just be a continuation of the Sanford police’s cover up.

      I think it’s significant that we haven’t seen photos of Zimmerman’s reported injuries. He has been photographed dressed up in a suit after the events, and showed no signs of a broken nose. Wouldn’t he have black eyes after being punched right in the nose? That would be the normal course of such injuries.

      If he did have a broken nose and blood flowing from the back of his head, why does the police report state that Zimmerman was taken directly to an interrogation room instead of to a doctor? Wouldn’t he have been in terrible pain and covered in Trayvon’s blood?

      • janicen says:

        Good point. With those kinds of injuries, why wasn’t Zimmerman taken to a hospital? Why wouldn’t he ask to be taken to a hospital? I would if my nose had been broken unless I was trying to avoid a blood test.

      • bostonboomer says:

        He supposedly went to the hospital the next day. He went to bed with a broken nose and cut in the back of his head that needed stitches? Give me a break!

        And I still want to know why Trayvon’s body was kept in the morgue with a John Doe tag on his toe, when the police had his cell phone. It would have been easy to call recent numbers and find out who the kid was. The police assumed he was a criminal. With all their selective leaks, the Sanford police have neglected to give answers to any of these questions.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Justices “seemed deeply critical” of individual mandate in today’s session.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/judicial/story/2012-03-27/supreme-court-health-mandate/53801274/1

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Medvedev tells Romney the cold war is over and he should “use his head” and stop dealing in sterotypes.

    LOL

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/barackobama/9169275/Dmitry-Medvedev-says-Mitt-Romney-comment-smelled-of-Hollywood.html

    • RalphB says:

      I was just going to post that along with Obama’s explanation of the ‘hot mic’, which seems credible to me. Dmitry doesn’t seem to understand that ‘reason’ has no place in today’s Republican party 😉

      Obama explains Medvedev open mic incident

      SEOUL — President Barack Obama offered an extended explanation here Tuesday of the hot mic moment that caught him asking Russia’s president for some “space” and “flexibility” until after November’s election.

      “The only way I get this stuff done is If I’m consulting with the Pentagon, with Congress, if I’ve got bipartisan support and frankly, the current environment is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations,” Obama told reporters following a meeting with the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan. “I think the stories you guys have been writing over the last 24 hours is pretty good evidence of that.”
      […]
      On Tuesday, Obama said his comments, though not intended for public consumption, were “not a matter of hiding the ball — I’m on record” about wanting to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles. Though he spoke bluntly to Medvedev, Obama insisted that the thrust of his remarks was in line with what he said in his Monday speech at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and in other public statements.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I didn’t see anything wrong with what Obama said. It sounded pretty logical, IMHO. Obviously, during an election campaign, the Republicans are going to refuse to go along with anything he proposes and will attack him no matter what.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Mitt Romney believes that godfathers have the right to kill their godchildren.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/27/mitt-romney-godfather_n_1382137.html?ref=politics

    • bostonboomer says:

      As Lawrence O’Donnell has repeatedly pointed out, the bill contains no penalties for not getting health insurance.

  7. RalphB says:

    Thanks for the great update on the Martin case BB. I thought I did that earlier but it seems to have disappeared 🙂

  8. RalphB says:

    Comedy genius …

    Colbert: Romney’s hair snaps on like a ‘Lego man’

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/03/27/colbert-romneys-hair-snaps-on-like-a-lego-man/

  9. bostonboomer says:

    I don’t want to link to them (you can google), but numerous right wing blogs are now claiming that Trayvon Martin STOLE the Skittles and iced tea. They say police interviewed the grocery clerk and there is no receipt. I haven’t seen this in a news story yet, but just wait….

  10. foxyladi14 says:

    there will be lots of stories.some may even be true. 🙂

  11. quixote says:

    ZOMG! Rescue by aliens! The hour produces the … alien. It’s our only remaining hope. Where do I sign up?