The heatwave continues here, but I hope this will be the last day of extreme weather for the time being. It’s already 83 degrees outside my house at 7:30AM. I’m hoping and praying for a thunderstorm later on. Despite the heat, I’m doing fine–just not getting that much accomplished.
Several people are tweeting about a bomb being detonated by a passenger getting off a plane at Beijing International Airport, but I haven’t seen any news stories about it yet. Apparently the passenger was in a wheelchair and detonated a bomb after yelling something. There don’t appear to be a lot of casualties. Photo of alleged bomber holding up something and screaming. Picture of the smoky aftermath.
According to Jim Sciutto, an American living in China, the bomber is still alive and on the way to the hospital. A letter from him says that a beating by police in 2005 left him paralyzed.
The Aurora Colorado theater shooting was one year ago today, and survivors are still dealing with the aftermath. CBS News reports:
Caleb Medley was shot in the head and spent two months in a coma. Teenager Kaylan Bailey struggled in vain to save a six-year-old girl with CPR. Marcus Weaver was hit in the shoulder with shotgun pellets while his friend died in the seat next to him.
One year after the Aurora, Colo. theater massacre, survivors are struggling to cope with the physical and emotional wounds left by James Holmes, an enigmatic figure who opened fire at the midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
The rampage killed 12 people, injured 70 and altered the lives of the more than 400 men, women and children who were in the auditorium on July 20, 2012. Survivors still carry the trauma of that night but have found strength in everything from religion to cheerleading to taking up the issue of gun control.
Read examples at the link. NBC News has photos and remembrances of the Aurora victims.
Yesterday, President Obama spoke publicly about the Travon Martin case. CNN:
In unscheduled and unusually personal remarks, President Barack Obama tried Friday to explain why African-Americans were upset about last week’s acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin while lowering expectations for federal charges in the case.
“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” Obama told White House reporters in a surprise appearance at the daily briefing….
Speaking without a teleprompter, Obama noted a history of racial disparity in law as well as more nuanced social prejudice that contribute to “a lot of pain” in the African-American community over the verdict.
“There are very few African-American men in this country who have not had the experience of being followed when they are shopping at a department store. That includes me,” the president said.
“There are probably very few African-American men who have not had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me – at least before I was a senator,” he continued.
“There are very few African-Americans who have not had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had the chance to get off. That happens often,” he said.
Saying he didn’t intend to exaggerate those experiences, Obama added that they “inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.”
CNN also collected reactions to Obama’s remarks from Twitter. At Salon, Alex Seitz-Wald writes about “the time Obama was mistaken for a waiter.” Seitz-Wald surveys the negative reactions to Obama’s remarks from right wingers:
The immediate reaction from the right was scorn, and a belittling of the notion that Barack Obama, with his elite education at Punahou and Columbia and Harvard, his meteoric success, and his half whiteness, could possibly have been profiled. Or that Obama was overreacting – everyone locks their doors and it has nothing to do with race. Martin, after all, has been vilified as a thug in some circles on the right.
“I’m not saying profiling never happens, but where is the evidence?” one Fox News guest protested. “So Obama ‘could have been’ Trayvon 35 yrs ago? I had no idea Obama sucker-punched a watch volunteer & then bashed his head in. Who knew?” talk radio host Tammy Bruce tweeted. “There’s no reason to believe that Martin could have been Obama 35 years ago,” the conservative Powerline blog commented. On Twitter, some guessed Obama had “never set foot in a department store, unless you count Barney’s.”
As usual, the sneering right wingers were wrong.
…a stunning little blog post by the Wall Street Journal’s Katherine Rosman from 2008 that resurfaced this afternoon tells a remarkable story about Obama the year before his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention that would make him a household name. Rosman was at a book party at the Manhattan home of a Daily Beast editor with a guest list “that can fairly be described as representative of the media elite,” when she encountered an unknown Illinois state senator “looking as awkward and out-of-place as I felt.” It was Barack Obama, of course, and they chatted at length.
When she left the party, an unnamed “established author” admitted to Rosman that he had mistaken Obama, one of the only black people at the party, for a waiter and asked him to fetch a drink.
That was when he was a state senator and Harvard Law grad, and just a few years from national fame, followed by his election to the Senate, and then the White House. And it was in New York City at a gathering of presumably liberal intellectuals.
African American leaders praised Obama’s speech, according to CBS News.
“I think the president did exactly what was needed, and he did it in only a way he can,” Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, told CBS News. “I believe he started a conversation today that must continue.”
Politically, using the shooting of 17-year-old African-American Trayvon Martin and the subsequent trial of George Zimmerman to talk about race was a risky move, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told CBSNews.com. Yet as a statesman, it was important for Mr. Obama “to lay out a vision of how best to move forward,” he said. “It should be an important starting point for a conversation on race in America and how we can become a better society.”
However, another Salon writer, African American author Rich Benjamin denounced Obama’s speech as “safe, overrated, and airy.” Benjamin compared Obama’s words unfavorably to recent remarks by Attorney General Eric Holder and asked whether Holder is acting as Obama “inner n****r.”
Finally the president has spoken about George Zimmerman’s acquittal. Even as the country waited for his singular response – the nation’s leader and a law professor who once looked like Trayvon Martin – the president danced around the issues. And what a dramatic anti-climax, listening to the president refuse to say anything insightful or profound about the acquittal. In signature professorial style, the president gave us the “context” to the episode and to black people’s “pain.” But he didn’t offer a meaningful opinion on the episode’s hot molten core: racial profiling, vigilantism, and “Stand Your Ground” laws.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder delivered trenchant thoughts on the acquittal, demanding action. Before an audience of supporters, Holder recently called for a full investigation of Martin’s death after Zimmerman’s acquittal. Holder vowed that the Justice Department will act “in a manner that is consistent with the facts and the law. We will not be afraid.”
“We must stand our ground,” he told supporters.
Some of us have an Inner Child. Others have an Inner Nigger. Is Holder the president’s conscience? Or his Inner Nigger?
Is Holder the president’s aggressive internal mind and voice — willing to speak truth to power, but unbothered with appearing like an angry black man?
Read it and see what you think. I must admit, I was a little shocked.
Meanwhile, in a House hearing on the IRS non-scandal, good ol’ Darrell Issa referred to African American Congressman Elijah Cummings as “a little boy.”
The testy exchange came after Cummings, a 62-year-old African-American congressman from Baltimore, challenged past insinuations by Republicans that the White House was behind the IRS targeting. Cummings was picking up on testimony from two IRS witnesses who both said they knew of no evidence of political motivations in the enhanced scrutiny, which also included some progressive groups.
But Issa took issue with Cummings, denying that he had implied the orders came from the highest office in the land and insisting that he only said the targeting came from Washington.
Issa interrupted at the start of another member’s remarks to express his “shock” at Cummings.
“I’m always shocked when the ranking member seems to want to say, like a little boy whose hand has been caught in a cookie jar, ‘What hand? What cookie?’ I’ve never said it leads to the White House,” Issa said.
In fact, he has pointed to the Obama administration and went so far as to call President Barack Obama’s top spokesman, Jay Carney, a “paid liar.”
Ex-CIA head Michael Hayden, who supported and defended warrantless wiretapping under the Bush administration has published an op-ed at CNN in which he says that Edward Snowden “will likely prove to be the most costly leaker of American secrets in the history of the Republic,” and that writer and inveterate Snowden defender Glenn Greenwald is “far more deserving of the Justice Department’s characterization of a co-conspirator than Fox’s James Rosen ever was.” He says Snowden has hurt U.S. intelligence and foreign policy in three ways:
First, there is the undeniable operational effect of informing adversaries of American intelligence’s tactics, techniques and procedures. Snowden’s disclosures go beyond the “what” of a particular secret or source. He is busily revealing the “how” of American collection….
As former director of CIA, I would claim that the top 20% of American intelligence — that exquisite insight into an enemy’s intentions — is generally provided by human sources. But as a former director of NSA, I would also suggest that the base 50% to 60% of American intelligence day in and day out is provided by signals intelligence, the kinds of intercepted communications that Snowden has so blithely put at risk.
But there is other damage, such as the undeniable economic punishment that will be inflicted on American businesses for simply complying with American law….
The third great harm of Snowden’s efforts to date is the erosion of confidence in the ability of the United States to do anything discreetly or keep anything secret.
Manning’s torrent of disclosures certainly caused great harm, but there was at least the plausible defense that this was a one-off phenomenon, a regrettable error we’re aggressively correcting.
Snowden shows that we have fallen short and that the issue may be more systemic rather than isolated. At least that’s what I would fear if I were a foreign intelligence chief approached by the Americans to do anything of import.
Well, that third point is really the government’s fault, not Snowden’s.
Greenwald reacted by tweeting that Hayden “belongs in prison for implementing illegal warrantless eavesdropping at Americans.” FAIR defended Greenwald, calling Hayden’s characterization of Greenwald as “co-conspirator” a “smear.”
There’s nothing new on the Snowden front, except that Russia’s treatment of its own whistleblowers is beginning to get some coverage. From CNN: “Putin, a hypocrite on Snowden, Navalny.”
On Thursday in Moscow, where former NSA contractor Edward Snowden awaits his asylum papers, a Russian court removed a major critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin from the Kremlin’s list of worries, sentencing the charismatic opposition leader Alexei Navalny to five years in jail on theft charges. Amid intense anger at the verdict and fears that it would raise Navalny’s profile, the court agreed on Friday to release him pending appeal.
The trial and the predictable verdict, as the European Union foreign affairs chief said, “raises serious questions as to the state of the rule of law in Russia.” That’s putting it mildly. Navatny is the most prominent, but just one in a long series of politically-motivated prosecutions in a country where the courts seldom make a move that displeases Putin.
Navalny was particularly worrisome to the Russian president. He had gained an enormous following by speaking out against corruption and cronyism, labeling Putin’s United Russia “a party of swindlers and thieves” and using social media to help mobilize the president’s critics. He had just announced he would run for mayor of Moscow. But, like other Putin opponents with any possible chance to loosen the president’s complete hold on power, he will likely go to prison instead. Now that he’s released, Navalny is considering whether to stay or withdraw from the race for mayor.
According to Voice of America, Navalny still plans to run for Mayor of Moscow.
Then there’s the case of Sergei Magnitsky. The government auditor was sent to investigate the investment firm Heritage Capital, which was charged with tax evasion. When Magnitsky concluded the tax fraud was actually coming from the government side and became a whistleblower, naming a network of corrupt officials, he was accused of working for Heritage and thrown in jail, where he became ill, was denied medical treatment and died in 2009, when he was just 37. The United States responded with the Magnitsky Law, imposing sanctions on those involved in his death.
Death didn’t save Magnitsky from Russia’s courts, which found him guilty of tax fraud just last week.
Many others, including the performance group Pussy Riot, have seen even small scale political activism land them in jail.
I’ll end there and open the floor to you. What stories are you following today? Please post your links in the comments, and have a stupendous Saturday!!
Trayvon Martin Case Update: Zimmerman’s Interactions with Sanford Police, Officials; Witnesses Change StoriesPosted: May 23, 2012
More information continues to trickle out in the The Trayvon Martin Case. Today The Miami Herald revealed that George Zimmerman may have had relationships with members of the Sanford Police Department and other Sanford officials.
In January, 2011, Zimmerman spoke at a community meeting called by newly elected Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett. He strongly criticized the local police department and said he knew all about it because he had been on a ride-along with Sanford police officers.
“And what I saw was disgusting,” Zimmerman said, according to a recording of the January 2011 meeting obtained by The Miami Herald. “The officer showed me his favorite hiding spots for taking naps, explained to me that he doesn’t carry a long gun in his vehicle because, in his words, ‘anything that requires a long gun requires a lot of paperwork, and you’re going to find me as far away from it.’
“He took two lunch breaks and attended a going-away party for one of his fellow officers.”
According to the article, Chief Bill Lee had e-mail interactions with Zimmerman, even though during the controversy over Zimmmerman not be charged in the shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, Lee claimed that Zimmerman
had no relationship with the police department. City records show Lee exchanged emails with Zimmerman last year, when the neighborhood watch volunteer wrote to the chief to praise the department’s volunteer program coordinator.
A video released last week by the State Attorney prosecuting the case shows Zimmerman freely walked about the police station the night of the shooting unescorted.
Sanford police say they have don’t know which officer or officers Zimmerman rode with. How ironic that Zimmerman criticized the police department that was so lenient with him after he killed a young boy for no discernible reason. In a further irony, Zimmerman argued that the previous chief who had failed to arrest the son of one of his officers in the beating of a homeless man should not receive a pension, because:
“I would like to state that the law is written in black and white and it should not and cannot be enforced in the gray for those who are in the thin blue line.”
In other news about the case, last night The Orlando Sentinel reported that four witnesses to portions of the fight between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin changed their stories after having more time to reflect on their memories of events. Here’s a brief summary of the changes from the New York Daily News.
Witness 12: A neighbor in the complex first told an agent March 20 that she saw two people on the ground, but wasn’t sure who was on top. Six days later, after seeing news reports, she said she believed Zimmerman was on top of Martin.
Witness 6: He first told an investigator that he saw a black man (presumably Martin) “throwing down blows” on a lighter-skinned man (presumably Zimmerman). He also believed the one being hit was calling out for help. But three weeks later, while he still claimed “the black guy was on top,” he wasn’t sure who was actually calling for help and wouldn’t assume Martin was the one hitting Zimmerman.
Witness 13: This witness interacted with Zimmerman before police arrived, according to the evidence, and noted the blood on the back of his head.
In two interviews a month later, he detailed how Zimmerman that night acted casually like “nothing” had happened, as opposed to “‘I can’t believe I just shot someone!’” according to the evidence.
Witness 2: She initially told police that she saw two people running, although she couldn’t say who was chasing whom. On March 20, she told a Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent that she remembers seeing only one person running and heard them as well, but still couldn’t say who that was.
Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey will hold a press conference at 6PM today to announce state charges against George Zimmerman, who admitted to shooting Miami high school student Trayvon Martin on the evening of February 26 as he returned to the home of his father’s fiancee in a gated community in Sanford, Florida. Sanford Police released Zimmerman the same night, apparently believing his claim that he killed Martin in self-defenst
Multiple news sources are saying there will be charges filed against Zimmerman, but not what crime he will be charged with. Corey had told reporters on Tuesday night that she would give them three hours notice before she announced new details in the Trayvon Martin case.
The prosecutor’s ruling is certain to provoke controversy in Sanford, Fla., where shooting took place and across the country.
Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic neighborhood watch captain, shot and killed Martin, who was 17 and black, on Feb. 26 after following the teenager for several minutes.
The special prosecutor’s ruling came one day after Zimmerman’s legal team quit because they had lost contact with him, and suggested that the pressure of the case had “pushed him over the edge.”
His lawyers said that Zimmerman was no longer in Florida and ABC News has learned that prosecutors do not know his exact location.
I’m hoping that Corey knows where Zimmerman is. His former attorneys had said earlier that he would willingly turn himself in if a decision were made to charge him. Will he follow through on the promise now that he has reportedly gone rogue?
State tuned. I’ll update this post with any new information that I can find.
UPDATE: Angela Corey has announced that she will hold a press conference in Jacksonville within the next 72 hours. She said she will give the press a 3 hour heads-up before she makes her announcement.
George Zimmerman’s attorneys Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig, announced at a press conference this afternoon that they have withdrawn from the representing Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin homicide.
The attorneys decided to resign after they “lost contact” with Zimmerman–he has refused to return their calls since Sunday. They also learned over the weekend that Zimmerman had ignored their advice about a website they set up for him and had set up a Paypal account different than the one they had agreed on, which Zimmerman’s father would control.
The last straw was when Sonner and Uhrig learned that George Zimmerman had contacted special prosecutor Angela Corey’s office and asked to speak to her directly. She refused to speak to him without counsel. Zimmerman then called back and told Corey’s office that he had no attorneys, just “advisers.”
Zimmerman also contacted Sean Hannity, who took the call personally. Hannity confirmed that he did talk to Zimmerman off the record and that he would discuss it on his Fox News program tonight. Sonner and Uhrig have no idea what their former client said to Hannity.
Most troubling of all, Zimmerman has “left the state, but not the country.” So where is he? It’s not clear if even Zimmerman’s father knows where is now. Keep in mind that these two attorneys have never known where Zimmerman was hiding, and have never actually met him. They have only talked to him by telephone.
According to MSNBC, the attorneys said
“We have a pretty good idea where he (Zimmerman) is,” Uhrig said, but added that Zimmerman is not answering the phone. The attorneys said they thought Zimmerman was still in the United States, but not likely in Florida….
The attorneys also expressed concern about Zimmerman’s “emotional and physical safety” and said he may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. They also have reservations about a web site Zimmerman set up to solicit money for help in his defense.
“Him setting up his own website is fine,” Sonner said. “I wish he would have told me.” Sonner, the first attorney Zimmerman contacted, said he had been working on the case for free.
At various times during the press conference, both attorneys said they did not know where Zimmerman is currently.
Uhrig told the press that, if people are trying to find Zimmerman, they should “stop looking in Florida” and “look much farther way.” This directly contradicts what Craig Sonner said on March 23 when he assured a reporter from WFTV that “he’s absolutely in the state, he’s local.”
Benjamin Crump, one of the attorneys for Travon Martin’s parents, gave a statement to Time Magazine:
Benjamin Crump, attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family expressed surprise over the announcement and issued a statement to TIME.
Trayvon’s family was always concerned that Zimmerman doesn’t try to skirt his legal responsibilities and become a flight risk. We always wanted this before a judge and a jury. We hope that [authorities] will take this under consideration that this a flight risk. If they go to press charges, is he really going to face them?
Regarding the website, therealgeorgezimmerman.com, Crump says:
It’s America, and he has a right to do what he wants to do. The family was a little taken aback that George said he had this life-changing occurrence [and needs money]. Well Trayvon Martin had a life-ending occurrence; his family had to do all this stuff [to get someone] who killed their child to face a judge and a jury. The fact that he has this website and he’s out to do this website, when you see the balance, Trayvon is dead. If it were the reverse, Trayvon would have been arrested by day one.
Let’s hope that the special prosecutor’s office has caller ID or that the FBI has some way of finding out where Zimmerman has gone.
Most of the commentators seem to think it doesn’t look good for the health care bill. At SCOTUS Blog, there’s an index of yesterday’s coverage.
The New York Times editorial addresses the “test” the Supreme Court faces in their decision on this case.
In ruling on the constitutionality of requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance, the Supreme Court faces a central test: whether it will recognize limits on its own authority to overturn well-founded acts of Congress.
The skepticism in the questions from the conservative justices suggests that they have adopted the language and approach of the insurance mandate’s challengers. But the arguments against the mandate, the core of the health care reform law, willfully reject both the reality of the national health care market and established constitutional principles that have been upheld for generations.
The Obama administration persuasively argues that the mandate is central to solving the crisis in America’s health care system, which leaves 50 million people uninsured and accounts for 17.6 percent of the national economy. The challengers contend that the law is an unlimited — and, therefore, unconstitutional — use of federal authority to force individuals to buy insurance, or pay a penalty.
That view wrongly frames the mechanism created by this law. The insurance mandate is nothing like requiring people to buy broccoli — a comparison Justice Antonin Scalia suggested in his exasperated questioning of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. Congress has no interest in requiring broccoli purchases because the failure to buy broccoli does not push that cost onto others in the system.
It’s really frightening to think of the possible implications of the justices overturning this law. Will the right wingers challenge Medicare and Social Security next? Dahlia Lithwick says the right wingers on the Court seem to want to return the country to “freedom” circa 1804.
The fight over Obamacare is about freedom. That’s what we’ve been told since these lawsuits were filed two years ago and that’s what we heard both inside and outside the Supreme Court this morning. That’s what Michele Bachmann* and Rick Santorum have been saying for months. Even people who support President Obama’s signature legislative achievement would agree that this debate is all about freedom—the freedom to never be one medical emergency away from economic ruin. What we have been waiting to hear is how members of the Supreme Court—especially the conservative majority—define that freedom. This morning as the justices pondered whether the individual mandate—that part of the Affordable Care Act that requires most Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty—is constitutional, we got a window into the freedom some of the justices long for. And it is a dark, dark place.
But the “conservative” justices, who are covered by government subsidized health insurance appear to think freedom means the right to let people die if they can’t pay for health care.
[Sonia] Sotomayor…pondering whether hospitals could simply turn away the uninsured, finally asks: “What percentage of the American people who took their son or daughter to an emergency room and that child was turned away because the parent didn’t have insurance—do you think there’s a large percentage of the American population who would stand for the death of that child if they had an allergic reaction and a simple shot would have saved the child?”
But we seem to want to be free from that obligation as well. This morning in America’s highest court, freedom seems to be less about the absence of constraint than about the absence of shared responsibility, community, or real concern for those who don’t want anything so much as healthy children, or to be cared for when they are old. Until today, I couldn’t really understand why this case was framed as a discussion of “liberty.” This case isn’t so much about freedom from government-mandated broccoli or gyms. It’s about freedom from our obligations to one another, freedom from the modern world in which we live. It’s about the freedom to ignore the injured, walk away from those in peril, to never pick up the phone or eat food that’s been inspected. It’s about the freedom to be left alone. And now we know the court is worried about freedom: the freedom to live like it’s 1804.
The quotes from Scalia and Kennedy in Lithwick’s piece are unbelievable. Please go read the rest at the link.
There were some bombshells in the Trayvon Martin case last night. ABC news obtained video of George Zimmerman arriving at the police station after he shot Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman had no visual signs of injury, no bandages, no sign of grass stains on the back of his jacket, no sign of a broken nose, no blood on his nose or the back of his head.
Last night on MSNBC’s The Last Word, Lawrence O’Donnell spoke to the funeral director who prepared Martin’s body for burial. The funeral director saw no sign of damage to Martin’s knuckles or any other part of his body that would indicate he had been in a fight. The only damage this man observed was a gunshot wound to Martin’s chest.
O’Donnell also had as a guest Cheryl Brown, the mother of a 13-year-old boy who witnessed the shooting. He couldn’t see much, because it was getting dark, but the boy told the 911 dispatcher that he saw a man lying on the ground and another man standing over him. One of the men was crying out for help, and then there was a gunshot and the crying stopped.
Another issue that arose last night on both MSNBC’s The Ed Show was that the police report on the incident listed Trayvon Martin’s full name and address; yet police listed him as a John Doe for three days. When Sanford police finally informed Trayvon’s father that his son was dead, the man who came to the house was Chris Serino, the investigator whom we recently learned wanted to charge George Zimmerman with manslaughter on February 26, the night of the shooting. Serino told Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, that he (Serino) didn’t believe Zimmerman’s story.
I don’t have any links, as I write this late on Wednesday night. I will try to add them in the morning when news articles become available.
The autopsy on Trayvon Martin’s body will obviously be key in determining what happened that night, but the autopsy is currently under seal.
The autopsy on Trayvon Martin was performed by a medical examiner who works for the Volusia County government, and therefore Byron has been in the loop regarding the autopsy, which has not yet been released as the investigation into the killing is ongoing.
“In Florida when a death is being actively investigated by any agency … the autopsy information is shielded under the Florida public records law until the investigation becomes un-active, or inactive,” Byron told the IBTimes via phone Wednesday morning. “So in this case I think we can all agree this is an active death investigation, so what I need to do is refer all calls to the State Attorney’s Office in Jacksonville.”
The LA Times reported yesterday that: Black residents in Sanford, FL say they’re often harassed by police. Here’s one example from the article:
To many black residents of Sanford, the escalating national anger over how local police have handled the [Trayvon Martin] case reflects years of tension and frustration over their treatment by authorities.
Murray Jess, for one, can’t shake the memory of an evening two years ago, as he drove through Sanford at dusk, heading home after attending an art show with his fiance and his 14-year-old nephew.
A police cruiser began following Jess’ silver-gray 1996 Mercedes. Two unmarked police cars blocked the road in front of him, forcing Jess into a Pizza Hut parking lot. An officer got out of a van and pointed a video camera at the bewildered Jess as another officer, his hand on his gun, approached the car.
Jess asked the officer why he had been stopped. “He said, ‘We’ve had a lot of reports of these kinds of cars being stolen lately,’ ” said Jess, a black Sanford resident and business owner whose voice still shakes with rage.
I have several other news links for you on a variety of subjects that I’ll give you in what Minkoff Minx and Wonk the Vote call a “link dump.”
On Tuesday, Minx reported that a group led by Magic Johnson has purchased the LA Dodgers. The team has been in limbo for the past couple of years after the former owner, Frank McCourt went through an expensive divorce that drained his funds. Actually, McCourt really never had enough money to be the owner of an MLB team. The LA Times reports on Dodger fans’ reactions.
Pope Benedict called for an end to the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and met with revolutionary icon Fidel Castro on Wednesday as he ended a trip in which he urged the communist island to change.
He also spoke at a public Mass in Havana’s sprawling Revolution Square where the Vatican said 300,000 people gathered to hear the 84-year-old pontiff.
In a trip laced with calls for change in Cuba, his last message was aimed at the United States, its longtime ideological foe, which for 50 years has imposed a trade embargo trying to topple the Caribbean island’s communist government.
Speaking in a departure ceremony at a rainy Havana airport, Benedict said Cuba could build “a society of broad vision, renewed and reconciled,” but it was more difficult “when restrictive economic measures, imposed from outside the country, unfairly burden its people.”
A terrible wildfire has been burning in Colorado. Authorities believe the fire was started by a “controlled burn.”
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper suspended prescribed burns used to mitigate fire danger on Wednesday after a controlled blaze apparently ignited a wildfire west of Denver that killed an elderly couple and destroyed some two dozen homes.
“Through this suspension, we intend to make sure that we have the procedures and protocols in place so that prescribed fire conditions and management requirements are understood and strictly followed,” Hickenlooper said in a statement.
Although the origins of the so-called Lower North Fork Fire are officially under investigation, the Colorado State Forest Service has said that a controlled burn it conducted was the likely source of the fire.
A Jet Blue pilot who apparently had a psychotic break during a flight has been charged with a crime.
U.S. authorities filed criminal charges on Wednesday against a JetBlue Airways pilot who yelled incoherently about religion and the 2001 hijack attacks and pounded on a locked cockpit door before passengers subdued him in a midair uproar.
Flight 191 was diverted to Amarillo, Texas, on Tuesday, following what authorities described as erratic behavior by Capt. Clayton Frederick Osbon, who allegedly ran through the cabin before passengers tackled him in the galley….
The Justice Department filed a complaint charging Osbon with interfering with the crew. It is unusual for a commercial airline pilot to be charged in this way, and a U.S. official said he could not recall a similar case in recent years.
Osbon, 49, remains in a guarded facility at a hospital in Amarillo, and U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldana said he faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The man sounds mentally ill to me. I’ll be interested to learn more about what happened.
If you’re interested in some juicy gossip from Arlen Specter’s new book, you can find it at The Washington Post and Huffpo. There appears to be quite a bit in the book about naked Senators–including Ted Kennedy. I think I’m going to pass on reading this book.
Sooooo… what are you reading and blogging about today?
ABC News has obtained surveillance footage of George Zimmerman arriving at the Sanford police station in handcuffs, standing for some time with his back to the camera, and then walking down the hallway to the interrogation room where he is shown from the front.
There is no visible blood on the back of Zimmerman’s head and no visible cuts. The back of his jacket does not look wet. His nose does not look bloody. If Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin point blank, he should have blood on his clothing, but I can’t see any in the video. Zimmerman does not look fat or out of shape in the video either. From the ABC article:
The surveillance video, which was obtained exclusively by ABC News, shows Zimmerman arriving in a police cruiser. As he exits the car, his hands are cuffed behind his back. Zimmerman is frisked and then led down a series of hallways, still cuffed.
Zimmerman, 28, is wearing a red and black fleece and his face and head are cleanly shaven. He appears well built, hardly the portly young man depicted in a 2005 mug shot that until a two days ago was the single image the media had of Zimmerman….
In the video an officer is seen pausing to look at the back of Zimmerman’s head, but no abrasions or blood can be seen in the video and he did not check into the emergency room following the police questioning.
Last night we learned that the lead investigator the night of the shooting wanted to arrest Zimmerman that night. But Zimmerman was not arrested, because the state Attorney General Norman Wolfinger said there was not enough evidence to convict him.
One more bit of news: this evening a woman whose 13-year-old son witnessed the shooting appeared on CNN Headline News and said that the lead investigator told her that night that he did not believe Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense and that there was some profiling going on.
Please watch the video at the link. I’d like to know what other people think. My eyes aren’t the greatest.