Saturday, March 31, 2012

GOP mega-donors show PAC loyalty

Just 17 donors shelled out about half of the more than $81 million that's flooded into PACs.
By ROBIN BRAVENDER | 3/31/12 4:30 PM EDT

Big GOP super PAC donors have been stubbornly standing by their favorite presidential candidates — even those with doomed campaigns.
Just 17 million-dollar-plus donors have shelled out about half of the more than $81 million that has already flooded into super PACs supporting Republican presidential hopefuls this election cycle. The vast majority of the big super PAC spenders have remained loyal to a single candidate, according to a POLITICO analysis of the most recent campaign filings.

And while some of the biggest givers, including casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, have signaled that they’ll eventually coalesce around the official GOP nominee, most haven’t — and their dollars haven’t either.
The latest filings show super PAC donations through the end of February, when Mitt Romney’s eventual nomination didn’t appear as clear-cut, and big donors may have been hoping for an underdog uprising. Still, mega-donors’ loyalty is another sign that in the new age of candidate-focused super PACs, party faithful are willing to spend millions of dollars to back their favorite candidates and fuel intra-party spats, instead of moving that cash into GOP infrastructure or groups ready to pivot into the general election.

The Koch brothers' campaign to kill social security

The rightwing industrialists have spent millions funding opinion-forming propaganda to undermine a vital public service,

The Brave New Foundation's new film, Counter the Koch Billions; Protect Social Security. Video: Brave New Foundation

Documents and interviews unearthed in recent months by Brave New Foundation researchers illustrate a $28.4m Koch business that has manufactured 297 commentaries, 200 reports, 56 studies and six books distorting social security's effectiveness and purpose. Together, the publications reveal a vast cottage industry comprised of Koch brothers' spokespeople, front groups, thinktanks, academics and elected officials, which has built a self-sustaining echo chamber to transform fringe ideas into popular mainstream public policy arguments.
"The Koch brothers job is to do everything they can to dismember government in general," Senator Bernie Sanders says in this video. "If you can destroy social security, you will have gone a long way forward in that effort."   READ MORE


Massive Gas Leak Could Be the North Sea's Deepwater Horizon

North Sea platforms: tjodolv via Flickr
| Wed Mar. 28, 2012 12:20 PM PDT
A natural gas well in the North Sea 150 miles off Aberdeen, Scotland, sprung a massive methane leak on March 25. The 238 workers were all safely evacuated. But the situation is so explosive that an exclusion zone for ships and aircraft has been set up around the rig, reports the Mail Online. And nearby rigs have been evacuated, reports the New York Times:
Royal Dutch Shell said it closed its Shearwater field, about four miles away, withdrawing 52 of the 90 workers there; it also suspended work and evacuated 68 workers from a drilling rig working nearby, the Hans Deul.
But that's not the worst of it. The platform lies less than 100 yards/meters from a flare that workers left burning as crew evacuated. The French super-major oil company owner of the rig, Total, dismissed the risk, while the British government claimed the flame needs to burn to prevent gas pressure from building up. But Reuters reports:
Elgin Field: Adapted from map by NordNordWest via Wikimedia Commons.

[O]ne energy industry consultant said Elgin could become "an explosion waiting to happen" if the oil major did not rapidly stop the leak which is above the water at the wellhead.   READ MORE

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Trayvon Martin Video Shows No Blood or Bruises on George Zimmerman

Screen Capture

Blow up of Zimmerman's Head

A police surveillance video taken the night that Trayvon Martin was shot dead shows no blood or bruises on George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain who says he shot Martin after he was punched in the nose, knocked down and had his head slammed into the ground.

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. 

The initial police report noted that Zimmerman was bleeding from the back of the head and nose, and after medical attention it was decided that he was in good enough condition to travel in a police cruiser to the Sanford, Fla., police station for questioning.

His lawyer later insisted that Zimmerman's nose had been broken in his scuffle with 17-year-old Martin.
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.   READ MORE

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Trayvon Martin: a typical teen who loved video games, looked forward to prom

A photo of Trayvon Martin wearing a hoodie was
used on banners and signs carried by protesters
in New York City on March 21, 2012.
Mario Tama / Getty Images

Trayvon Martin’s death gripped the nation, but in life he was a typical Miami teen who texted his friends, loved video games and saw his future in aviation.

Trayvon Martin spent his 17th birthday, which would be his last, with his family. He ate a home-cooked meal followed by cake, opened presents that included Levis jeans, Adidas sneakers and a bottle of Issey Miyake cologne.

He would be 17 for 21 days. He died Feb. 26, a bullet in his chest, shot by a neighborhood crime watch captain patrolling a suburban gated townhouse community in Sanford, 250 miles from his home, where he had gone with his father after a school suspension. George Zimmerman, the shooter, has not been arrested, sparking a growing wave of outrage manifested in daily rallies, petitions, speeches and media scrutiny.

“He had been so looking forward to going to his junior prom, and he had already started talking about all the senior activities in high school,’’ his mother, Sybrina Fulton, 46, said in a voice hollowed and somber. “He will never do any of those things.’’

As the nation grapples with the killing of an unarmed black teenager wearing a hoodie, his parents patiently offer the simple details of Trayvon’s life, painting the portrait of a typical teenager who would end up in a casket, buried in white suit with a powder blue vest.

Trayvon was 6-foot-3, 140 pounds, a former Optimist League football player with a narrow frame and a voracious appetite. He wanted to fly or fix planes, struggled in chemistry, loved sports video games and went to New York for the first time two summers ago, seeing the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and a Broadway musical, The Addams Family. He hoped to attend the University of Miami or Florida A&M University, enamored by both schools’ bright orange and green hues.

Also known as “Slimm”, he had a girlfriend and spent endless hours talking or texting on his cell phone. Other times he was quiet, listening to the soundtrack of R&B, reggae, rap and gospel music flowing through his ear buds or watching half-hour re-runs of Martin, his favorite show.  READ MORE

Read more here:

Sandusky labeled 'likely pedophile' in 1998 report

Psychologist warned university police, but they weren't able to prove abuse of boy 

More than a decade before former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with more than 50 counts of child sex abuse, a psychologist warned university police that his actions fit that of a “likely pedophile’s pattern.”  

The finding by State College, Pa., psychologist Dr. Alycia A. Chambers, the therapist for one of Sandusky’s alleged victims, was contained in the internal Penn State files of a 1998 police investigation of the former coach for showering and bear hugging her client and another young boy in the school’s athletic locker room.
The Sandusky Files: Read the 1998 police report


For key reports from reliable sources on sexual abuse scandals, click here

The Absurd Myths Porn Teaches Us About Sex

Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Young people who have learned about sex from watching porn have a treasure trove of sadly mistaken beliefs and misconceptions about sexuality.
March 26, 2012

When Lynette, a college student, first hooked up with an ex-boyfriend, she came face to face with the unrealistic ideals mainstream porn can create about sexuality.

“I had a boyfriend who didn’t realize that women had pubic hair,” she tells us in an interview. “Because he had only watched porn, he had never seen a naked woman outside of porn, so he just sort of failed to realize they had pubic hair.”

“This came up somewhat before my pants came off,” she added, “so you can realize how awkward this was.” She paused. “His face was memorable. In an ‘oh God, what is wrong with me, I am never taking my pants off in front of anyone ever again’ way."

Porn has become immensely popular in the last century. With the rise of Internet pornography, no longer do you have to enter a sleazy sex shop in a shady part of town to witness an astonishing panoply of sex acts. A quick Google brings you sex acts from the mundane (happy amateur couples having missionary intercourse) to the bizarre (could looners, who have a sexual fetish for balloons, ever have met each other outside the Internet?). Many teenagers have their first introduction to sex from the glow of a computer screen.

And these days, it can lead to some hilarious misconceptions.   READ MORE
"These myths about sexuality might seem humorous, but they hide a tragic truth. A generation of teenagers grew up under Bush’s record-breaking funding for abstinence-only sex education.

Although Obama has eliminated funding for abstinence-only and funded evidence-based comprehensive sex education, the damage has already been done. And both Santorum and Romney, the frontrunners for the GOP nomination, favor abstinence-only sex education—despite the evidence that it delays loss of virginity only eight months. According to research at the Guttmacher Institute, the rates of pregnancy and STIs among teenagers who received abstinence-only sex education are far greater than the rates among those who didn’t."

Trayvon Martin Case: Police Wanted Warrant To Arrest George Zimmerman, Prosecutor Says

Bill Lee, the Sanford police chief, temporarily stepped
down from his post because he said his role in the
Trayvon Martin case had become a "distraction."
The special prosecutor in the case said that Lee's
police department initially sought a warrant for an
arrest in the case, but were told to wait by state
prosecutors. (AP

The Huffington Post  | 
By Gene Demby  | 
Posted: 03/28/2012 1:19 am 
Updated: 03/28/2012 5:10 am 

The special prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin case said that the Sanford Police Department asked the state attorney's office for an arrest warrant to charge George Zimmerman early in the investigation, but the state's attorney's office decided to wait.

The Miami Herald reported that the local police initially went to the Seminole State Attorney with a request to file charges and the police report labeled the case as "homicide/negligent manslaughter."

"The state attorney impaneled a grand jury, but before anything else could be done, the governor stepped in and asked us to pick it up in mid-stream," Angela Corey, the special prosecutor on the case said.

Chris Serino, the lead detective on the case, expressed doubts around Zimmerman's account of the shooting, according to ABC News. Serino filed an affidavit on the night of the shooting in which he said that he was unconvinced Zimmerman's version of events.  READ MORE


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Republican Party Is Rotted and Collapsing from Within -- And We Can Thank Super PACs for Exposing It

Super PACs are an affront to the democratic process, but they are hastening the Republican Party's fall.
March 26, 2012

They are anti-democratic and turning the 2012 presidential campaign into an extreme sport for the wealthy, but they are destroying the modern Republican Party in the process. Call it the paradox of the Super PACs. 
These big-money operations have made a mockery of campaign finance laws and even the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling by being shadow campaigns for candidates and giving a handful of rich people an unprecedented level of power in the presidential race. But perhaps we also should thank the multi-millionaires writing outsized checks to benefit Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum because their obstinate crusades—and Mitt Romney’s erratic replies—keep reminding anyone paying attention that today's Republican Party is not just a mess, but is collapsing from within.
It is not as if the Democrats are a model of unity—although they may have more discipline than today’s GOP. Rather, the super PAC-funded media wars among the Republicans have brought a breach into the open that the GOP establishment can no longer contain: the fight between the Republican Party's hardened right (religious conservatives and Tea Partiers) and the party's business-first corporatists.

The Horrors of an Ayn Rand World: Why We Must Fight for America's Soul

Ayn Rand enjoyed her entitlements
An Objectivist America would be a dark age of unhindered free enterprise, far more primitive and Darwinian than anything seen before.
March 26, 2012

Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from Ayn Rand Nation: the Hidden Struggle for America's Soul, by Gary Weiss. Click here for a copy of the book. 

The whole damned history of the world is a story of the struggle between the selfish and the unselfish! . . . All the bad around us is bred by selfishness. Sometimes selfishness even gets to be a cause, an organized force, even a government. Then it’s called Fascism.
—Garson Kanin, Born Yesterday
There is no real doubt what an Objectivist America would mean. We may not be around to see it, but it’s likely we’ll be here for its earliest manifestations. They may have already arrived.    READ MORE

Transgender model disqualified from Miss Universe Canada pageant

Facebook via The Daily Mail
Jenna Talackova
Pageant says Jenna Talackova was dishonest in her application

By Rheana Murray / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, March 26, 2012, 3:14 PM

Online support is mounting for the leggy blond beauty queen who said she was booted from the Miss Universe Canada pageant for being transgender.

Jenna Talackova, 23, was born as a male, but has identified as a female since age 4. She began hormone therapy at 14, and underwent gender reassignment surgery at 19, according to a 2010 interview.

On Friday, Miss Universe Canada released a statement explaining that Talackova was eliminated “because she did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form.”

A petition for the 6-foot-1 stunner's reinstatement into the competition launched shortly after, and has drawn more than 21,000 signatures.  READ MORE

‘The Hunger Games’ finds conservative and liberal fans flocking to the movie’s message

Photo courtesy of Lionsgate
Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen in
The Hunger Games

But it is a 'critique of current culture' or an 'indictment of winner-take-all capitalism'?

An epic centered on a woman defending her family from the excesses of big government and a predatorial pop culture. An anti-war tale in which kids are the victims of an authoritarian government.
Which version of “The Hunger Games” did you see at the multiplex this weekend?

In the wake of the “The Hunger Games’” huge box office success - it earned a non-sequel record $152.5 million at the box office in its debut weekend - some liberals and conservatives are sharply divided about the film’s themes as they are on most issues.
“Any story that resonates with so many readers as the movie has done with viewers is going to have people ... I guess you’d have to call it hopping on a bandwagon,” movie historian Leonard Maltin, critic for “Entertainment Tonight,” told the Daily News. “And because it’s an allegory, people can content themselves by reading into the movie whatever they please.”   READ MORE

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Did the Founders Hate Government?

Saturday, 24 March 2012 13:14  
By Robert Parry, Consortium News
News Analysis 

Orwell’s insight - that who controls the present controls the past, and who controls the past controls the future - could apply to the American political debate in which the Right has built a false narrative that enlists the Framers of the Constitution as enemies of a strong central government, writes Robert Parry.
In the coming months – with a new fight over the federal budget, the Supreme Court’s review of health-care reform and the November elections – the battle in the United States will pit not just political parties and economic ideologies against one another – but competing national narratives of how and why the United States was founded.

Indeed, it is that conflict over the American narrative that may well determine the outcome of the presidential election and the future direction of the United States. Yet, this dispute over the Founders’ vision is rarely debated in the mainstream news media.

The argument does, however, inspire right-wing groups which obsess over “strict construction” of the Constitution and the “originalist” intent of the Founders. Such references also have become standard fare on the Republican campaign trail with the four remaining major candidates claiming to be in this fight to defend American “liberty.”

On Saturday, for instance, ex-Sen. Rick Santorum declared that President Barack Obama’s health-care reform is “a threat to the very essence of who America is.” As the New York Times noted, “numbers like 1776 and 1860 increasingly pepper his speeches as he stresses the historical urgency of his candidacy.”

Privatization Threatens Open Government

Saturday, 24 March 2012 12:01  
By Donald Cohen, 
In the Public Interest
News Analysis 

On July 4, 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) into law, establishing the public's right to access to government information.   Surprisingly, Republican Congressman Donald Rumsfeld helped deliver Republican votes to pass the groundbreaking law.

Since then, state governments followed suit and began passing open government laws across the country to ensure the public would have "sunshine" and access to information about the way public services and tax dollars are managed.

But the laws are out of date and need an overhaul. The explosion in the use of government contractors at every level of government -- from local trash services to security contractors in Iraq - has exposed weaknesses in sunshine and open record laws.

In some cases, conservative governors are even trying to weaken existing transparency requirements to make it easier to privatize.  Florida Governor Rick Scott's failed proposal to privatize prisons in eighteen counties included a provision to eliminate the requirement for a cost-benefit analysis before moving ahead with the deal.   Coincidentally, Florida-based GEO Corporation, one of the largest private prison companies, is a major contributor to GOP campaigns in the state.

Under existing law private contractors in states throughout the country are evading oversight by exploiting loopholes in transparency protections.  Most existing state laws don't pierce the corporate veil and now policy makers, journalists and advocates no longer have access to basic financial, performance and workforce information that is essential to government accountability.

For example:    READ MORE

Last Ditch Attempt to Save a Little Bit of Investor Protection in the United States

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) at the Capitol in Washington
on June 11, 2008.
(Photo: Brendan Smialowski / The New York Times)
Saturday, 24 March 2012 10:35 
  By Simon Johnson,  
The Baseline Scenario | News Analysis 

As it currently stands, the “JOBS” bill now before the Senate would gut investor protection in the United States.  The title of the bill is a complete misnomer – anything that weakens investor protection makes it more risky to invest in companies and increases the cost of capital to honest entrepreneurs.  (For more background on the bill and links, see this piece.)

Much of the 1930s-era Securities legislation, which served us well for more than 70 years, is about to be repealed in a moment of bipartisan madness.

Almost all attempts to amend the House version of this legislation – and to make it more favorable to investors – have now failed in the Senate, and the “cloture motion” received more than 60 votes (so the bill cannot be filibustered).  But Senator Jack Reed (D., Rhode Island) is leading one last charge to make the Senate version more reasonable.

Here is the issue with H.R. 3606 (as the House version of the bill is known), from Senator Reed’s website:
“The SEC requires public companies to disclose meaningful financial information to the public. This provides a common pool of knowledge for all investors to judge for themselves whether to buy, sell, or hold a particular security. Only through the steady flow of timely, comprehensive, and accurate public information can people make sound investment decisions. The result of this information flow is a far more active, efficient, and transparent capital market that facilitates the capital formation so important to our nation’s economy. H.R. 3606 would roll back key investor protections, denying the public critical information that is essential to make sound judgments and would ultimately not lead to the proposed goal of the bill: providing for access to capital, particularly for small emerging companies.”
The “JOBS” bill would permit even very large companies to avoid all public disclosures.

Gay Marriage Effort Attracts a Novel Group of Donors

Rob Reiner. (Photo: Andy and Mike / Flickr
Saturday, 24 March 2012 09:28  
By Adam Nagourney, Brooks Barnes, 
The New York Times News Service | Report 

Los Angeles - On a warm Friday afternoon three years ago, Rob Reiner, the director, arrived for lunch at the Beverly Hills estate of David Geffen, the entertainment mogul. Mr. Reiner and his political adviser, Chad H. Griffin, had spent six months drafting an ambitious legal campaign aimed at persuading the United States Supreme Court to establish a constitutional right of same-sex marriage.

Mr. Reiner, joined by Mr. Griffin and Mr. Reiner’s wife, Michele, told Mr. Geffen they would need $3 million to challenge Proposition 8, a California voter initiative approved the previous November banning same-sex marriage. He informed Mr. Geffen that they had recruited two renowned lawyers, David Boies, a Democrat, and Theodore B. Olson, a Republican, to argue the case.

“Our feeling is not to go state by state,” Mr. Reiner said. “Our strategy is to make this wind up in the United States Supreme Court and have this a settled issue for all time.”

Mr. Geffen asked few questions as they sat in the dining room off his screening room, with a sweeping view down his sculptured estate. He agreed before the dessert arrived to raise the money. “I said I’d give them half the money and raise the other half,” Mr. Geffen recalled. Mr. Geffen wrote a check for $1.5 million and asked Steve Bing, a friend and producer, to make up the rest.   READ MORE

400 Chernobyls: Solar Flares, Electromagnetic Pulses and Nuclear Armageddon

An abandoned middle school, part of the contaminated
area surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, in
Pripyat, Ukraine, March 17, 2011. The ghost town which
once had a population of about 50,000 people, was given
a few hours to evacuate in April 1986 as radiation streamed
into populated areas after an explosion at the reactor.
(Photo: Joseph Sywenkyj / The New York Times)
turday, 24 March 2012 00:00  
By Matthew Stein, Truthout | News Analysis 

There are nearly 450 nuclear reactors in the world, with hundreds more being planned or under construction. There are 104 of these reactors in the United States and 195 in Europe. Imagine what havoc it would wreak on our civilization and the planet's ecosystems if we were to suddenly witness not just one or two nuclear meltdowns, but 400 or more! How likely is it that our world might experience an event that could ultimately cause hundreds of reactors to fail and melt down at approximately the same time? I venture to say that, unless we take significant protective measures, this apocalyptic scenario is not only possible, but probable.

Consider the ongoing problems caused by three reactor core meltdowns, explosions and breached containment vessels at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi facility and the subsequent health and environmental issues. Consider the millions of innocent victims who have already died or continue to suffer from horrific radiation-related health problems ("Chernobyl AIDS," epidemic cancers, chronic fatigue, etcetera) resulting from the Chernobyl reactor explosions, fires and fallout. If just two serious nuclear disasters, spaced 25 years apart, could cause such horrendous environmental catastrophes, it is hard to imagine how we could ever hope to recover from hundreds of similar nuclear incidents occurring simultaneously across the planet. Since more than one-third of all Americans live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant, this is a serious issue that should be given top priority.    READ MORE


Western countries scramble for Afghan exits

Visit Beautiful KaBul
By Fozil Mashrab

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan - As international forces prepare for withdrawal from Afghanistan, Western countries are already in talks with Afghanistan's Central Asian neighbors to bring their troops and military equipment back home.

The Pakistani route and the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) running through Central Asian countries are the two viable routes for international forces to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The United States and Afghanistan are in the process of negotiating an accord for a long-term US presence in Afghanistan

after 2014, when most foreign combat forces are due to withdraw. The US wants some advisers and special forces to stay on.

There are also "emergency scenario options" in the event either or both of the Pakistani route or/and the NDN are closed. This would require airlifting military equipment to Ulyanovsk airport in Russia or even to a suitable military airport in India, and from there transporting it to the nearest port city.

The Pakistani route, which has remained closed since November 2011 after a "friendly fire incident" involving North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces at the AfPak border area which killed 26 Pakistani soldiers and wounded dozens others, was partially reopened earlier this year to allow the US and NATO to ship food items to Afghanistan.

Currently, both US and Pakistani authorities are in search of a mutually acceptable arrangement that would allow both sides to scale down negative feelings and fully reopen the Pakistani route.   READ MORE

U.S.: Bales went on 2 shooting sprees

A photo of Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales dated
Aug. 23, 2011, at the National Training Center
at Fort Irwin, Calif. (AP Photo
Afghanistan, Ten Years Later

(AP) WASHINGTON - American officials say U.S. investigators now believe the U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians split the slaughter into two episodes - returning to his base after the first attack and later slipping away to kill again.

This scenario seems to support the U.S. government's assertion — contested by some Afghans — that the killings were done by one person, since they would have been perpetrated over a longer period of time than assumed when Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was detained March 11.

But it also raises questions about how Bales, who was formally charged with premeditated murder, could have carried out the slaughter without drawing attention from others on the American base in Kandahar province.

The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe is ongoing.  READ MORE

Trayvon Martin and the End of Excuses

Trayvon Martin. (photo: Family, Trayvon Martin)
By Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Magazine
24 March 12

e have become a nation in which children have become expendable. Trayvon Martin is just the most recent example.

We executed children in this country until long after the rest of the world - except Iran - thought that was a good idea. Almost six million children live in poverty in this country. Almost six million of them are without health insurance of any kind, and that's reckoned to be an improvement. None of this is accidental. These children are expendable because the people we elect make policy decisions of which we approve - or, at least, of which we do not disapprove. The Republicans in Congress - behind the "leadership" of zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan - would like to zero out the SCHIP children's health-care program. If they do that, it will not be done by accident. The Florida legislature, behind the leadership of the National Rifle Association, passed the "stand your ground" law, despite the fact that even police and prosecutors were warning that it amounted to a hunting license for anyone who had both a gun, and the ability to concoct a good story. Trayvon Martin is not dead by accident.

But, already, even in the face of widespread outrage, the notion is continuing to circulate through the country, like topical anesthetic working on an open wound, that what happened to Trayvon Martin was, if not entirely accidental, then merely a combination of unfortunate circumstances culminating in an entirely regrettable event. (That's not even to mention the wilder precincts of mouth-breathing public commentary. If you ever needed proof that whatever consulting genius came up with the idea of having a Comments section follow every newspaper story deserves to die a slow and painful death by honey and fire ants, this story is pretty much what you're looking for.) Conservatives caution the president not to "inject race" into the incident any further, because, as we know, we can't tell how much of a factor "race" was, because George Zimmerman was half-Hispanic and because of the backward masking on the Sergeant Pepper album. (I am not kidding.) Geraldo Rivera, looking for relevance in all the wrong places, blames hoodies:

But I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as George Zimmerman was.... Every time you see someone sticking up a 7-11, the kid is wearing a hoodie.... When you see a black or Latino youngster, particularly on the street, you walk to the other side of the street. You try to avoid that confrontation.

(And every time I see someone convicted of ripping off pension funds, he's wearing a $500 suit. Don't wear $500 suits!)   READ MORE

The legality of Zimmermans position on self defense,  obviously rests upon his being part of the "neighborhood watch" and not a "vigilante"  which would have been illegal!  

Okay,  but the 911 operator,  who speaks for the city/police/emergency services ordered him to stand down!  Had Zimmerman followed that order,  he could not have been involved with Trayvor Martin at all.
But that was not the case!  Zimmerman disobeyed his orders and that made him a vigilante unlawful,  which gave Martin the right to defend himself against the now criminal vigilante Zimmerman. 

A robber cannot break into your home or hold you up on the street and shoot you,  then claim self defense because you had tried to shoot him.   Normally,  merely following and accosting someone isn't a crime.  But,  under the circumstances where Zimmerman was acting as a "neighborhood watcher" and told not to do so by the authorities,  his actions then,  became the unlawful acts of an illegal vigilante.  He accosted Martin under the color of an authority he did not have.  To be a "neighborhood watcher",  he needed and had the permission of the police department to do certain things under certain circumstances.  When he disobeyed his instructions,  he ceased to be the legal extension of the police,  that the organization was set up to be.  He instead became a lone vigilante unlawful,  acting on his own.  Thus,  the police should have arrested him on the spot for what he did,  regardless of any and all claims,  since he had disobeyed his orders and lawfully given instructions. 

20 Experts Who Say Drilling Won't Lower Gas Prices

File photo, US gas pump. (photo: CarGurus Blog)
By Jocelyn Fong, Media Matters for America
24 March 12

n a pretty impressive act of journalism, the Associated Press recently conducted a "statistical analysis of 36 years of monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production." The result: "No statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump." It's neat to see math cut through the talking points and get straight to the truth of the matter - which is that expanding drilling is a fundamentally ineffectual response to gas price spikes.

Given that changes in U.S. oil production don't move gasoline prices, it should be clear that U.S. government policies related to drilling are of even smaller consequence. Indeed, 92 percent of economists surveyed by the Chicago Booth School of Business agreed this week that "changes in U.S. gasoline prices over the past 10 years have predominantly been due to market factors rather than U.S. federal economic or energy policies."

Still not convinced? How about another 20 economists and analysts from across the political spectrum who will tell you the same thing:   READ MORE

The Banned Doonesbury Abortion Cartoon: Part 6 (The Finale)

Garry Trudeau, Reader Supported News
24 March 12

As we reported back on March 12, Garry Trudeau has done it again. The intrepid comic strip author has ventured into forbidden political territory once more, and is banned by many publications again. Here is Part 6 of the banned Doonesbury Abortion Cartoon. -- ma/RSN

Doonesbury's banned abortion series: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.    READ MORE

Florida shooting triggers parents' nagging fears: 'Don't forget you're black ...'

Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune
Paul and Jeanne Miller with their son, Jeremy, 16,
in front of their home in Flossmoor, Ill., on Friday,
March 23, 2012.
Published: Saturday, March 24, 2012, 9:15 PM     
Updated: Saturday, March 24, 2012, 9:26 PM
CHICAGO -- When their son was about to enter his teens, Paul and Jeanne Miller of Flossmoor, Ill., decided it was time to have the talk.

As a black male, they told him, some people will make judgments about you and view you with suspicion based solely on your race.

Recently, as Jeremy, 16, was preparing to get his driver's license, his father told him what to do if he were ever stopped by police: Keep your hands visible on the steering wheel at all times.  And when he asked to take part in "Assassins," a popular suburban game where teens stalk each other with air soft guns, his parents' answer was an unequivocal no, lest someone mistake the toy that fires plastic bullets for a real weapon.

The story of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's death in Sanford, Fla., a suburb of Orlando, has struck a particularly sensitive chord with black parents such as the Millers, many of whom said they live with a nagging fear that their teenage boys could be harassed or attacked.

"We live in a fairly affluent interracial neighborhood with fantastic people who don't see color, but I know there are people out there who do," said Paul Miller. "I constantly tell him 'Don't forget you're black.' I don't want him to run into that guy who does see color one day when he's walking down the street."

Martin was shot to death last month by a man on a neighborhood watch patrol who confronted the black teenager because he thought he looked suspicious in the gated community. Martin, who was unarmed, was walking back to his father's house after going to the store for a can of tea and candy.

George Zimmerman claimed he acted in self-defense when he shot Martin, and was not charged in the shooting.  READ MORE

Man lives to tell of Florida "Shoot First" horror

MIAMI | Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:12pm EDT
(Reuters) - On June 5, 2006, not long after Florida enacted the first "Stand Your Ground" law in the United States, unarmed Jason Rosenbloom was shot in the stomach and chest by his next-door neighbor after a shouting match over trash.

Exactly what happened that day in Clearwater, Florida, is still open to dispute. Kenneth Allen, a retired police officer, said he shot Rosenbloom because he was trying to storm into his house.

Rosenbloom told Reuters in a telephone interview this week he never tried to enter the house and was in Allen's yard, about 10 feet from his front door, when he was shot moments after he put his hands up.
Now living in Hawaii, Rosenbloom said he had been unaware of the growing outrage over last month's shooting in Sanford, Florida, of an unarmed black teenager by a neighborhood watch captain.

Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot by George Zimmerman on February 26 while walking back to the house where he was staying with his father in a gated community. Sanford police have not arrested Zimmerman, largely because Stand Your Ground requires them, without clear evidence of malice and in the absence of eyewitness testimony to the contrary, to accept Zimmerman's argument he was acting in self-defense.
Allen was not arrested in the shooting of Rosenbloom. Sergeant Tom Nestor of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said Allen was found to have acted in self-defense when he pumped two rounds into Rosenbloom with his 9mm semi-automatic pistol.

"He meant for me to be dead and he never called 911," said Rosenbloom, 36, adding that Allen, now 65, bent over him and using an expletive, warned him not to tangle "with an ex-cop" as he lay bleeding on the ground.

"The police closed it on his words alone," said Rosenbloom, explaining how the case that began with a complaint about him leaving eight trash bags on the curb instead of the regulation six, was closed after what he described as only a summary investigation.

"They made me the bad guy," he added.    READ MORE

TRAYVON MARTIN: The 9 Most Striking Cartoons about the Florida shooting tragedy

(courtesy of ROB ROGERS / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette )
THE NEWLY OPENED FILM “The Hunger Games” has caused many parents, pundits and cultural critics to consider the depiction of fictional teens being slaughtered in the name of popular entertainment. But in Pittsburgh, the depiction of a real-life teen being killed has sparked controversy and explanation in the name of journalistic opinion.

Some readers of Rob Rogers, the editorial cartoonist for the city’s Post-Gazette, are upset that in commenting on the fatal shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, the artist has invoked the visceral imagery of a lynching, and has delivered his opinion by drawing the boy’s shooter, George Zimmerman, in the clothes of a Klansman.

Rogers stands staunchly behind his illustrated editorial.

“The killing of African American teenager Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman in Florida last month was not an act of self-defense,” Rogers tells Comic Riffs, noting that Martin was unarmed, toting only iced tea and Skittles. “Zimmerman had a history of reporting black males to the police. I believe he is a racist who was acting out his racism in the name of neighborhood watch.

“Now he is using Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law as an excuse for his racist violence,” Rogers continues, adding that “many feel the actions by the local police [in Sanford] were also racist.”

With that in mind, Rogers wasn’t about to pull any editorial punches as he rendered his judgment in ink.