Friday, November 30, 2012

'Stand your ground' laws: Do they put teens in greater danger?

Ron Davis, the father of Jordan Davis, is embraced as he arrives at the funeral home for the visitation and a memorial service for his son Jordan on Wednesday in Jacksonville, Fla.
Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union/AP

Ron Davis, the father of Jordan Davis, is embraced
as he arrives at the funeral home for the visitation and
a memorial service for his son Jordan on Wednesday
in Jacksonville, Fla.

Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union/AP
Three shooting deaths in the past week raise questions about whether prank-prone and reckless teens are particularly vulnerable under states' 'castle doctrine' and 'stand your ground' laws.

By Staff writer / November 29, 2012 


Recent events are raising questions about whether "stand your ground" and "castle doctrine" laws – which offer legal protection to people who hurt or kill someone in self-defense – could disproportionately harm teenagers.

During the past week, three teenagers in states with such laws were shot to death for doing things that, critics of the laws say, teenagers regularly get caught doing.

In Florida, unarmed 17-year-old Jordan Davis was allegedly shot and killed by 40-something Michael Dunn after an argument about a loud car stereo outside a convenience store.

And in Minnesota, retired State Department employee Byron David Smith allegedly wounded and then killed two teenagers, Haile Kifer and Nicholas Brady, who broke into his house on Thanksgiving, apparently on a hunt for prescription drugs.

This week also saw three teen boys charged with murder in Alabama after their friend, Summer Moody, was shot in April. When a man caught the four breaking into fishing cottages in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, he allegedly fired a warning shot that killed Summer in what a district attorney called a "tragic accident." On Wednesday, a grand jury indicted the three boys, not the man who shot Summer.

SYG laws will eventually,  if left to their own devises,  make us effectively our own jailers,  afraid to even walk the streets for fear of one another.  This intolerable situation will lead us to beg our authorities to take absolute power,  to remove guns from our society,  as the only way we can survive as a nation.  How ironic is it that the 2nd Amendment is leading us back into dictatorship?

Sign the anti SYG petition here;   and spread the word so that others can do so as well.  Sure it's not going to overturn the laws that many states have already passed,  but it will make the showing needed to empower others to move on this important matter.  Thanks for all that you do.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

'Stand your ground' task force just political theater

Beth Kassab
8:16 a.m. EST, November 17, 2012

This is why Florida is the butt of the nation's jokes.

We can't count our votes on time. The road to CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus' downfall veered straight off Interstate 4 and into the mansion of "Tampa Kardashian" Jill Kelley. We order government studies to answer questions that are already painfully obvious such as whether texting and driving is dangerous (Yes!).

And when we have the opportunity to do something serious — something that could make us a leader for improvements and reform — we waste it

I'm talking about fixing the law that made Central Florida the epicenter just nine months ago for explosive debates about racism, gun rights and when one person has a right to kill another.

But memories seem short since George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin on that cold and rainy February evening.

The law at the center of it all known as "stand your ground" caused two prosecutors to come to two wildly different conclusions.

People rightfully began to scrutinize "stand your ground," a 2005 law written by National Rifle Association lobbyist and Tallahassee puppet master Marion Hammer that removed the "duty to retreat" from Florida's self-defense statute.

In other words, if you believe you are in danger, Florida law says there's no need to run away or get yourself out of the situation if you can. You can just pull out your piece and fire, with immunity from prosecution.

Trayvon's death shined a light on other cases that had invoked "stand your ground": a gang member who got off scot-free for a shooting. A case of road rage that ended with one man stabbing another with an ice pick.

Feeling pressured to do something, the governor named a task force to study the law and make recommendations.

But this was nothing more than political theater. Gov. Rick Scott stacked the committee with members already convinced it was a good law and not in need of major reform.   READ MORE

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How the media shouldn't cover a mass murder

A look at the "Batman killer" front pages.

Every time there's a mass shooting, I remember this piece of footage from Charlie Brooker's BBC series Newswipe. In it, a forensic psychiatrist outlines the guidelines for news reporting of such a tragedy, assuming that your aim is to prevent further ones.


He says:
If you don't want to propagate more mass murders...
Don't start the story with sirens blaring.
Don't have photographs of the killer.
Don't make this 24/7 coverage.
Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story.
Not to make the killer some kind of anti-hero.
Do localise this story to the affected community and as boring as possible in every other market.
Here are this morning's front pages. Judge for yourself who has done a good job of heeding that advice, and who hasn't.  See More Newspaper Front Pages


It could be a very unlucky time to be the lucky winner of Wednesday’s $425 million Powerball jackpot. Whether Congress and the White House reach an agreement on deficit reduction by the end of the year or not, new taxes on the rich are bound to take a large chunk of the prize money.
Financial advisors usually recommend lottery winners spread their winnings out over several years to avoid temptations of spending the money too quickly. But with the fiscal cliff threatening to shrink the prize money through a bundle of new tax hikes, advisors are recommending the winner takes the lump sum as soon as possible. “A lump sum could save you millions in taxes,” Matthew Goff, a financial adviser in Houston, told Marketwatch.

- Read more at Marketwatch


Grover Norquist

Conservative groups are less than amused with Republicans who are considering raising revenue in exchange for entitlement cuts in fiscal cliff negotiations.

Brent Bozell, chairman of For America, a conservative action group, wrote an angry letter to Republican leaders Tuesday, blasting the lawmakers for putting tax increases on the table.

 “You led the Republican Party for two years claiming emphatically that the tax increase on “the wealthy”... is really a devastating tax hike on small business owners that would kill jobs and decimate any kind of economic recovery,” the letter said. “Now conservatives see daily stories asserting that the GOP agrees with the President that “revenues are on the table” and GOP elite are all over the airwaves asking if the Tea Party will care if “a few multi-millionaires pay more in taxes.”

 The group said that by agreeing to raise revenue, Republicans are only emboldening Democrats to demand higher taxes. “Liberals feel comfortable making such outlandish proposals because they feel you are weak enough that you will continue to surrender to evermore higher taxes having capitulated once already. They will never be satisfied. You know that.” The letter was sent just days after a handful of senior Republicans publicly distanced themselves from conservative activist Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge. - Read the letter here

Small businesses big enough to hit these thresholds incorporate to escape them.
The real target is the Corporate Executives of public corporations,  who can now take their compensation in salaries plus benefits,  because the top income brackets are now low enough,  to make "raiding the corporate treasury via compensation and benefits packages",  a viable option.

If taxes on the proceeds of these corporate treasury raids are high enough to prohibit them,  then corporate executives will have to take their compensation in stock and options.  The difference is that,  to get and preserve the capital gains they get from stock and options compensation deals,  they must ensure that the company performs well.  That means that as the company performs well,  not only do they get the high pay they seek,  but shareholders get benefits too.  That puts more money into the economy,  than would happen if only these executives get higher salaries,  which are paid them,  regardless of company performance.  Many taking herculean pay,  even while the corps they manage sink beneath the waves.