So are blacks discriminated against when relying on Stand Your Ground laws?

Here is a case that the liberal point to in arguing against Stand Your Ground laws.  To me, assuming that the facts are accurate, it certainly looks like Marissa behaved properly and I have stated that before in interviews.  From Salon.com:
On Aug. 1, 2010, Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old mother of three, with a master’s degree and no criminal record, was working for a payroll software company in Jacksonville. She was estranged from her abusive husband, Rico Gray, and had a restraining order against him. Thinking he was not at home, she went to their former house to get some belongings. The two got into an argument. Alexander says that Gray threatened her and she feared for her life. Gray corroborates Alexander’s story: “I was in a rage. I called her a whore and bitch and … I told her … if I can’t have you, nobody going to have you,” he said, in a deposition. When Alexander retreated into the bathroom, Gray tried to break the door. She ran into the garage, but couldn’t leave because it was locked.  She came back, he said, with a registered gun, which she legally owned, and yelled at him to leave.  Gray recalls, “I told her … I ain’t going nowhere, and so I started walking toward her … I was cursing and all that … and she shot in the air.” Even Gray understands why Alexander fired the warning shot: “If my kids wouldn’t have been there, I probably would have put my hand on her. Probably hit her. I got five baby mommas and I put my hands on every last one of them, except for one … I honestly think she just didn’t want me to put my hands on her anymore so she did what she feel like she have to do to make sure she wouldn’t get hurt, you know. You know, she did what she had to do.” And Gray admits Alexander was acting in self-defense, intending to scare and stop but not harm him: “The gun was never actually pointed at me … The fact is, you know … she never been violent toward me. I was always the one starting it.” Ultimately nobody was hurt. Nobody died. On May 12, 2012, it took a jury 12 minutes to find Alexander guilty of aggravated assault. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison. . . .
One case doesn't prove discrimination.  But if there is discrimination, it seems to me that the solution is to fix the discrimination, not to banThey go on to claim:
The Tampa Bay Times found that defendants claiming “stand your ground” are more successful if the victim is black. Seventy-three percent of those who killed a black person faced no penalty. Only 59 percent of those who killed a white person got off. The Urban Institute determined that in “stand your ground” states, when white shooters kill black victims, 34 percent of the resulting homicides are deemed justifiable. When black shooters kill white victims only 3 percent of the deaths are ruled justifiable. . . .
The Daily Caller aggregated the Tampa Bay Times numbers a little differently and came to this (see also here):
But approximately one third of Florida “Stand Your Ground” claims in fatal cases have been made by black defendants, and they have used the defense successfully 55 percent of the time, at the same rate as the population at large and at a higher rate than white defendants, according to a Daily Caller analysis of a database maintained by the Tampa Bay Times. Additionally, the majority of victims in Florida “Stand Your Ground” cases have been white. . . .
So I looked at the data and I think that the Daily Caller made a mistake.  At least for decided cases, 69 percent of blacks who have claimed the Stand Your Ground law as a justification were not convicted (24 out of 35) (so 31 percent were convicted).

For whites, the percentage is actually lower.  62 percent of whites who claimed Stand Your Ground as justifying their actions were not convicted (40 out of 65).

For Hispanics, 78 percent successfully rely on the Stand Your Ground law (7 out 9 cases).

There are other ways to break things down.

In 78 percent of cases, whites who killed blacks were considered justified under Stand Your Ground.  In 67 percent of the cases, blacks who killed whites were considered justified.  While this is considered to be discrimination against blacks the difference is too small to be considered any where near to be statistically significant with this small sample.

In 59 percent of cases, blacks who killed blacks were considered justified under Stand Your Ground.  In 65 percent of the cases, whites who killed whites were considered justified.  Again, these are small differences.

Yet, just accounting for race doesn't account for other important factors, such as the facts of the cases.  There is a lot of information in the files and some more careful empirical work would be useful.

Additional information: The Urban Institute also has a report on justifiable homicides (it received a lot of publicity such as here), but the problem is that it assumes that there is a consistent measure by the FBI of justifiable homicides.  In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.  Heavily Democratic and minority areas are less likely to record this data.  So let's assume that blacks are more likely to use guns defensively in areas where there are more likely to be in heavily Democratic and black areas.  If so, you will get a lot of defensive gun uses by blacks that won't be recorded as such because those jurisdictions simply don't record the data.


Federal government push on Stand Your Ground laws, Obama and Senate Democrats

The US Senate is moving forward with hearings to politicize Stand Your Ground laws.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Friday that the Senate Judiciary Committee would hold a hearing in September to examine "Stand Your Ground" laws in the wake of George Zimmerman's acquittal in the Trayvon Martin case. 
The "stand your ground" self-defense laws in Florida and two dozen other states allow individuals to defend themselves without requiring them to attempt to evade or retreat from a dangerous situation. Although Zimmerman did not specifically employ a "stand your ground" law defense to combat second-degree murder charges in the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, the trial has brought a renewed scrutiny to the statutes. 
"September’s hearing will examine the gun lobby’s and the American Legislative Exchange Council’s influence in creating and promoting these laws; the way in which the laws have changed the legal definition of self-defense; the extent to which the laws have encouraged unnecessary shooting confrontations; and the civil rights implications when racial profiling and 'stand your ground' laws mix, along with other issues," Durbin's office said in a statement. . . .
Obama again interjects himself into another legal process that is still underway (remember that his DOJ is considering bringing new charges against Zimmerman).
I know that there's been commentary about the fact that the "Stand Your Ground" laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.  
On the other hand, if we're sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms, even if there's a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we'd like to see?  
And for those who -- who resist that idea, that we should think about something like these Stand Your Ground laws, I just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened? And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws. . . .
While I disagree with most of Obama's discussion, it is useful that even he recognizes the obvious: that "Stand Your Ground" laws weren't involved in the Zimmerman case.  He could have made the statement even stronger, but you take what you get.
And -- and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different. . . .
Obama should have waited to say something on this until after the DOJ investigation was completed, though this won't be a problem if DOJ isn't planning on bringing a case and one would think that should be the final decision.  But given that he talked about race, Obama would have helped a lot of healing if he had said that Zimmerman hadn't been motivated by race.  Unfortunately, as the quote above indicates, he is actually implying the opposite.

It will be interesting to see how large the crowds will be on Saturday at Al Sharpton's 100 city protest.

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New Op-ed in Philadelphia Inquirer on Stand Your Ground Law

My newest piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer starts this way:
On Sunday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg knew what was responsible for Trayvon Martin's death: Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. Or, as Bloomberg calls it: a "shoot-first" law.  
According to Bloomberg: "'shoot-first' laws like those in Florida can inspire dangerous vigilantism and protect those who act recklessly with guns. Such laws - drafted by gun-lobby extremists in Washington - encourage deadly confrontations by enabling people to shoot first and argue 'justifiable homicide' later."  
Many others have taken the same line since Saturday's verdict. But they don't understand the law. Nor do they understand why it was completely irrelevant to the George Zimmerman trial. . . . .
The relevant part of the law for Zimmerman's case is unchanged in the US from before the country was started.  When you can't retreat, as with someone on top of you, the relevant law is no different than if the same case had happened in Florida 150 or 200 years ago. 

The Pennsylvania law is available here:

(i)  the actor has a right to be in the place where he was attacked;
(ii)  the actor believes it is immediately necessary to do so to protect himself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or sexual intercourse by force or threat; and
(iii)  the person against whom the force is used displays or otherwise uses:
(A)  a firearm or replica of a firearm as defined in 42 Pa.C.S. § 9712 (relating to sentences for offenses committed with firearms); or
(B)  any other weapon readily or apparently capable of lethal use.
(2.4)  The exception to the duty to retreat set forth   under paragraph (2.3) does not apply if the person against whom the force is used is a peace officer acting in the performance of his official duties and the actor using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a peace officer.

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Some sage advice from Ann Coulter on how to avoid being shot

This is from the beginning of Ann Coulter's newest column.
Black liberals keep bemoaning the danger to their own teenage sons after the "not guilty" verdict in George Zimmerman's murder trial. To avoid what happened to Trayvon Martin, their boys need only follow this advice: Don't walk up to a stranger and punch him, ground-and-pound him, MMA-style, and repeatedly smash his head against the pavement.  
The Justice-for-Trayvon crowd keeps pretending there hasn't been a trial where the evidence overwhelmingly showed that Trayvon committed the first (and only) crime that night by assaulting Zimmerman. Instead, the race agitators are sticking with the original story peddled by the media, back when we had zero facts. To wit, that Zimmerman had stalked a young black child and shot him dead just for being black and wearing a hoodie. . . .



This is pretty amazing stuff, but there is so much information available on you that it is possible to do a a good job predicting where you will be at some future date. From FastCompany.com:
Would you like to know how crowded your drive to the beach will be in three weeks? Or where your ex will be on a Friday night next month so that you can avoid him? 
Adam Sadilek, formerly of Microsoft, now a researcher at Google, and John Krumm, a principal researcher at Microsoft, were inspired by the question of predicting where people would be in the future and even led off with the query, “Where are you going to be 285 days from now at 2PM?” in their their paper, Far Out: Predicting Long-Term Human Mobility. . . .


Remember how tax information about Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell was leaked during the 2010 campaign?

Well, it turns out that the leak came from within the IRS.  How much worse does it get than using IRS information to attack political opponents who are running for the US Senate?
. . . The phone message earlier this year shocked the battled-scarred candidate, a tea party favorite who knocked off Republican mainstay Michael Castle in the primary before losing in a bid to win Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s former seat. 
Ms. O'Donnell, this is Dennis Martel, special agent with the U.S. Department of Treasury in Baltimore, Md. … We received information that your personal federal tax info may have been compromised and may have been misused by an individual,” he said in the January message left on her cellphone. 
For Ms. O'Donnell, the message immediately raised red flags. 
On March 9, 2010, the day she revealed her plan to run for the Senatein a press release, a tax lien was placed on a house purported to be hers and publicized. The problem was she no longer owned the house. The IRS eventually blamed the lien on a computer glitch and withdrew it. 
Now Mr. Martel, a criminal investigator for the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration, was telling her that an official in Delaware state government had improperly accessed her records on that very same day. . . .


Blacks benefited more than others from Florida's Stand Your Ground law

From the Daily Caller:
African Americans benefit from Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law at a rate far out of proportion to their presence in the state’s population, despite an assertion by Attorney General Eric Holder that repealing “Stand Your Ground” would help African Americans. 
Black Floridians have made about a third of the state’s total “Stand Your Ground” claims in homicide cases, a rate nearly double the black percentage of Florida’s population. The majority of those claims have been successful, a success rate that exceeds that for Florida whites. . . . 
But approximately one third of Florida “Stand Your Ground” claims in fatal cases have been made by black defendants, and they have used the defense successfully 55 percent of the time, at the same rate as the population at large and at a higher rate than white defendants, according to a Daily Caller analysis of a database maintained by the Tampa Bay Times. Additionally, the majority of victims in Florida “Stand Your Ground” cases have been white. 
African Americans used “Stand Your Ground” defenses at nearly twice the rate of their presence in the Florida population, which was listed at 16.6 percent in 2012.
Holder also makes the claim: “These laws try to fix something that was never broken."  It is something that he has a hard time justifying, but he really just asserts the claim here and offers no evidence.


Things are even worse than you might think for part time workers

You might know how many people are getting part-time jobs because of Obamacare.  But part-time workers have tried to make things up by getting multiple part-time jobs.  The problem is that with so many part-time workers for firms their work schedules have gotten very erratic.  Those erratic schedules  make it very difficult for them to hold down those multiple part-time jobs.  From NPR:
. . . The ranks of people working part time because they can't find full-time jobs have roughly doubled since the summer of 2007, from about 4.3 million to 8.2 million. . . .
employers also are worried about the financial impact of the Affordable Care Act, she says. That federal law soon will require employers with 50 or more full-time workers to offer affordable insurance to employees working 30 or more hours per week.
Not hiring full-time workers right now reflects "strategic thinking on the part of businesses that fear they are going to face higher costs," Mathur says. 
Such concerns were reflected in survey results released Tuesday by Sageworks, a company that analyzes the financial results of private companies. The poll of 300 accountants who work with private companies found that 2 out of 3 say concern about the new law isdampening hiring plans.



This is what a racist does?: In 2011, Zimmerman publicly defended homeless black man who had been beaten by the white son of an officer

Is this what a racist would do?  Why didn't anyone bring this up during the trial?  The fact that the police said that they believed Zimmerman is all the more amazing after Zimmerman publicly criticized them over such a sensitive matter. From the Associated Press:
George Zimmerman accused the Sanford police department of corruption more than a year before he shot Trayvon Martin, saying at a public forum the agency covered up the beating of a black homeless man by the son of a white officer. 
"I would just like to state that the law is written in black and white," Zimmerman said during a 90-second statement to city commissioners at a community forum. "It should not and cannot be enforced in the gray for those who are in the thin blue line." 
The forum took place on Jan. 8, 2011, days after a video of the beating went viral on the Internet and then-Sanford Police Chief Brian Tooley was forced to retire. Tooley's department faced criticism for dragging its feet in arresting Justin Collison, the son of a police lieutenant.  
"I'd like to know what action the commission is taking in order to repeal Mr. Tooley's pension," Zimmerman said to the commission. "I'm not asking you to repeal his pension; I believe he's already forfeited his pension by his illegal cover-up in corruption in what happened in his department." . . .


The reaction of so many to Zimmerman verdict causes juror to drop plans to write book about jury deliberations

The anger of the jury decision is because people have such a distorted view of the evidence.  It is not surprising, but it is disappointing that a jury member could could be so intimidated into not writing a book because so many people don't understand the evidence that the jury saw.  From Reuters:
The juror had planned to write the book with her husband, who is an attorney, explaining how the jury had "no option" but to find Zimmerman not guilty, but she subsequently decided not to proceed with publication, Martin added later.
The juror did not spell out the reasons for her change of heart but said her isolation in the jury room meant she had not been fully aware of the outrage over the case.
"The potential book was always intended to be a respectful observation of the trial from my and my husband's perspectives solely and it was to be an observation that our 'system' of justice can get so complicated that it creates a conflict with our 'spirit' of justice," she said in the written statement.
"Now that I am returned to my family and to society in general, I have realized that the best direction for me to go is away from writing any sort of book and return instead to my life as it was before I was called to sit on this jury," she added. . . .


Audio of my interview with Mike Huckabee on the Zimmerman case yesterday

The Huckabee interview is available here.

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Senator Harry Reid's outrageously false statement about Florida's Stand Your Ground law

Senator Harry Reid (at 1:12 into the clip) focuses on the Stand Your Ground law after the Zimmerman trial.  Here is his absurd claim:
Reid: It doesn't end with the jury trial.  There is the Justice Department looking at this and maybe the state of Florida will take a look at this outlandish law they have that allows people to track people down and this self defense thing is been brought to the point where they should take a real hard look at it. . . .
It is hard to believe that he doesn't know that his statement is outrageously false.  Some how we have gotten from a law that makes it so that people don't have to retreat as far as possible before being able to defend themselves against a real threat to where it somehow allows people to track down those that they want to shot.  Does Reid even understand that Nevada is a "Stand Your Ground" type of state?


What the prosecutors said about Florida's Stand Your Ground law

As I have argued many times, the Zimmerman case had nothing to do with Florida's Stand Your Ground law.

Here is a transcript of part of the press conference that the prosecutors had after the verdict was delivered.
Reporter David from the Miami Herald: Can you talk about the Florida Stand Your Ground law and whether the changes in 2005 in the law affected the facts in this case and whether this case could have been won, perhaps, pre the changes in the law? 
Angela Corey: Well, justifiable use of deadly force has changed to a certain extent. Stand Your Ground is a procedural mechanism, as we call it, where we fully expected it because of what we were hearing that the defense would request a Stand Your Ground hearing. We would have put on the same evidence. It would have been in front of just a judge instead of a jury. 
Reporter from the Miami Herald: What about the duty to retreat aspect? 
Corey: Well, the duty to retreat aspect had sort of disappeared before Stand Your Ground kicked in. You talked about the Castle doctrine . . .
Corey is somewhat confusing here, but presumably she was saying that "the duty to retreat aspect had sort of disappeared before issues of self defense kicked in."  The traditional self defense law was merely continued in the 2005 Stand Your Ground law.  From lead prosecutor Bernie De La Rionda.
Reporter (18:42): Mr. De la Rionda, could I get your impression of the 2005 expansion of the Florida self-defense statutes? Does this make your job harder? 
De la Rionda: You know, self-defense has existed for a long time. And we've dealt with it in Jackson for a long time. We've tried a lot of self-defense cases; I've personally tried 10 to 15 self-defense cases. They're tough cases, but we accept it so... The law really hasn't changed all that much. Stand Your Ground was a big thing, but really the law hasn't changed. We have a right to bear arms and a right to self-defense. . . .
Yet, all this hasn't prevented everyone from Bloomberg to the New York Times to NPR keep on emphasizing the Stand Your Ground law.
The laws allow someone with a reasonable fear of great bodily harm or death to use lethal force, even if retreating from danger is an option. In court, the gunman is given the benefit of the doubt. . . .
One other interesting point from this press conference (at the 16 minute mark) is how De la Rionda kept emphasizing that Zimmerman following Martin was the provocation.  He really seems to put that legal act of following someone on the same level as someone physically attacking another.
De la Rionda:  What it really boiled down to was a kid minding his own business being followed by a stranger.  And I would submit that is when it started.
It is also interesting about how Corey was unwilling to comment on the whistleblower in her office that she had fired.  This whistleblower had pointed out how Corey's office had hidden evidence from the defense.

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More attacks by blacks to avenge Trayvon Martin

I previously had a long list of such attacks available here.

From the Baltimore Sun.
Baltimore police say they are investigating a witness account that a group of black youths beat a Hispanic man near Patterson Park Sunday while saying, "This is for Trayvon." 
A witness posted the account on a community Facebook page, and police confirmed they are looking into whether the suspects' reaction to the verdict in the Florida trial of George Zimmerman played a part in the incident. A police report on the beating does not mention the alleged comments. . . .
From Oakland, Ca.
For more than three hours, protesters had complete control of 14th and Broadway near Oakland City Hall, preventing any cars from getting through. 
At about 8:30 p.m., police opened the intersection to traffic. But it quickly deteriorated when demonstrators surrounded frightened drivers who found themselves trapped. The crowd forced them to turn around. 
Oakland police officers that had been near the corner retreated, leaving the helpless drivers without police protection. It's unclear who gave that command. . . .
Here is a threat in Philadelphia:
Police in Chester County, Pennsylvania are investigating an act of vandalism with racial overtones, possibly connected to the fallout from the verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial.
Photographs obtained by Action News show what firefighters found Sunday night when they responded to a fire at ProSigns, a company that manufactures commercial signs for businesses, in the 200 block of Boot Road.
You can clearly see the words "Kill Zimmerman" painted in red paint on the front wall. . . . 
A CBS Reporter and Photographer were attacked in Los Angeles:
A CBS2/KCAL9 photographer and reporter were assaulted Monday night while covering a George Zimmerman protest in Crenshaw. 
Reporter Dave Bryan was conducting an interview around 10 p.m. when the suspect tackled him and his photographer, the station confirmed. 
“All of the sudden, this guy came up from behind, he had a hood, and he knocked David on the head and he pushed the camera guy down. The camera guy went down, the camera went down, David went down,” witness Joseph Deguerre, said. “I was in shock.” . . . 

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Obama comments interfere with military legal cases

Obama has made comments on everything from the Zimmerman case to the police arrest of Henry Louis Gates in Cambridge.  Some of those comments have stirred up racial tensions and created other problems.  Now one of his comments is making it impossible to prosecute some who may have committed crimes.   From the New York Times:
When President Obama proclaimed that those who commit sexual assault in the military should be “prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged,” it had an effect he did not intend: muddying legal cases across the country. 
In at least a dozen sexual assault cases since the president’s remarks at the White House in May, judges and defense lawyers have said that Mr. Obama’s words as commander in chief amounted to “unlawful command influence,” tainting trials as a result. Military law experts said that those cases were only the beginning and that the president’s remarks were certain to complicate almost all prosecutions for sexual assault. 
“Unlawful command influence” refers to actions of commanders that could be interpreted by jurors as an attempt to influence a court-martial, in effect ordering a specific outcome. Mr. Obama, as commander in chief of the armed forces, is considered the most powerful person to wield such influence. 
The president’s remarks might have seemed innocuous to civilians, but military law experts say defense lawyers will seize on the president’s call for an automatic dishonorable discharge, the most severe discharge available in a court-martial, arguing that his words will affect their cases. . . .


Pennsylvania's Voter ID law goes to court on Monday

This case ignores the simple fact that voter ID requirements have actually increased voter turnout.  From the Washington Post:
A trial set to begin Monday on the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s voter-identification law represents a major step toward a judicial ruling on whether the photo requirement should be enforced at polling places statewide or thrown out as unconstitutional. 
Nine days are set aside for the trial in Harrisburg in Commonwealth Court. Civil libertarians challenging the law and state officials defending it say they expect the state Supreme Court will ultimately decide the case.At issue is a voter-ID law that would be one of the strictest in the nation if it is upheld but which has never been enforced. 
After legal jousting that reached the state Supreme Court, Judge Robert Simpson blocked enforcement in last year’s presidential election and again in this year’s municipal and judicial primary . . .



More on the most open administration in history, Obama administration refuses to costs of global traveling

It seems that the Obama administration can't even keep its transparency promises on even the small things.  From Bloomberg:

. . . Bloomberg News last year asked for the details of out-of-town trips for the heads of 57 major departments in fiscal 2011, a test of President Barack Obama’s pledge to run the most open government in history. As of July 12, about one-fifth of those surveyed hadn’t responded
The State Department is one of five Cabinet offices that have yet to fully comply with requests under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose the details and expenses of official travel more than a year after they were filed. 
“These are exactly the kinds of records Cabinet offices should have at their fingertips,” said Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, a Washington-based open-information advocacy group. “You should not even have to ask for these records. They should be online already.” 
The Justice Department, which is responsible for monitoring compliance with the open-government law, took more than one year to comply even though Attorney General Eric Holder has called swift responses to public records petitions an “essential component” of government transparency. Following repeated queries, the agency provided travel vouchers and then the costs of the trips last week. . . .

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Some reactions to the Zimmerman verdict

Mayor Michael Bloomberg via Politico:
“But one fact has long been crystal clear: ‘shoot-first’ laws like those in Florida can inspire dangerous vigilantism and protect those who act recklessly with guns. Such laws – drafted by gun lobby extremists in Washington – encourage deadly confrontations by enabling people to shoot first and argue ‘justifiable homicide’ later.” 
He added, “Last year, I joined a broad coalition of civic leaders to shine a light on the impact of ‘shoot-first’ laws and work to eliminate them, in Florida and wherever they have been passed. We will continue that work – and the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed child attempting to walk home from the store, will continue to drive our efforts.” . . .
Of course, as I noted in my latest op-ed today, the Stand Your Ground law had nothing to do with this case because Zimmerman couldn't retreat with his back to the ground.

National Urban League President Marc Morial told MSNBC that the verdict would lead to him renewing his effort to go after "the poison of the stand your ground law."

On ABC News' This Week, Travis Smiley said this: "It appears to me, and I think many other persons in this country that you can in fact stand your ground unless you are a black man.  George Zimmerman was allowed to stand his ground, Trayvon Martin was not allowed to stand his ground."

The National Journal has this:
Quinn also disparaged the "Stand Your Ground" law at the center of the Martin case, saying "we don't have it in Illinois, and we don't want it."
Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that the legal system failed in not finding George Zimmerman guilty in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin, but cautioned that the Justice Department could have a challenge bringing civil rights charges in the case. 

Al Sharpton had these thoughtful comments:

"Well, I think that this is an atrocity," said Sharpton. "I think that it is probably one of the worst situations that I've seen. What this jury has done is establish a precedent that when you are young and fit a certain profile, you can be committing no crime, just bringing some Skittles and iced tea home to your brother, and be killed and someone can claim self-defense having been exposed with all kinds of lies, all kinds of inconsistencies. ... Even at trial when he is exposed over and over again as a liar, he is acquitted. This is a sad day in the country. I think that we clearly must move on to the next step in terms of the federal government and in terms of the civil courts. Clearly, we want people to be disciplined, strategic. But this is a slap in the face to those that believe in justice in this country." . . .
President Obama called for passage of more gun control laws as the appropriate response:
"We should ask ourselves if we're doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that's a job for all of us. That's the way to honor Trayvon Martin." . . .
Ben Camp, Martin Family Attorney, had this to say (at about 2:50 into the video): "Trayvon Martin will forever remain in the annuls of history next to Medgar Evers and Emmett Till as symbols for the fight for equal justice for all."  I have a hard time seeing the connection here.  Evers was a civil rights icon who in 1954 became the first NAACP field secretary in Mississippi.  He was assassinated in his driveway.  Emmett Till was a 14-year-old who was kidnapped and hung by three men.

Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King, has this on Facebook:

It's '63 once again. NOT GUILTY. Just like those who got off for the Bombing of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham back in '63. I'm stunned and disappointed. It's a sad day in the history of American Jurisprudence that our Justice system continues to fall short of the truth, especially when a person can be going about their daily business and ultimately be killed because of a false assumption. In the words of a friend, "any law that justifies the actions of Zimmerman is an unjust law. In the words of my father "We've got some difficult days ahead." Let us seek God for his guidance during this time. God is a God of Justice, mercy and grace. All protests against the verdict must demonstrate an irrevocable commitment to Nonviolence, to honor the dignity of Trayvon Martin's life and not add further tragedy to what his family and the people of Sanford have already experienced. Now is the time to create a culture of Nonviolence. . . .
For the previous comments that focused on race, possibly they should read the FBI investigation on Zimmerman.
After interviewing nearly three dozen people in the George Zimmerman murder case, the FBI found no evidence that racial bias was a motivating factor in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, records released Thursday show. . . . 
Federal agents interviewed Zimmerman’s neighbors and co-workers, but none said Zimmerman had expressed racial animus at any time prior to the Feb. 26 shooting of Martin, a black teen, in a confrontation at a Sanford housing complex. As Sanford police investigated the circumstances of Martin’s death, the FBI opened a parallel probe to determine if Martin’s civil rights had been violated. 
Several co-workers said they had never seen Zimmerman display any prejudice or racial bias. . . .

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/07/12/155918/more-evidence-released-in-trayvon.html#.UeM9mT7DVoY#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/07/12/155918/more-evidence-released-in-trayvon.html#.UeM9mT7DVoY#storylink=c
Zimmerman has also been the focus of other threats.  This from Giants football player Victor Cruz:
The Giants popular and squeaky clean wide receiver apologized this afternoon for an unfortunate tweet he wrote last night, moments after the neighborhood watch volunteer was cleared on all charges. . . . 
The Giants star tweeted: "Thoroughly confused. Zimmerman doesn't last a year before the hood catches up to him.” . . .
Besides the possibility of Federal action against Zimmerman, the Martin family is also considering civil action.
Crump [the Martin's lawyer] added that it wasn't clear at this point whether the family would file any further civil action against Zimmerman. . . .
As a side note, of course, Obama weighted in famously early on in the case when he said: "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon." 

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Judge Napolitano says judge in Zimmerman case should have stopped the trial

Judge Napolitano is pretty brutal in his assessment of the judge in the Zimmerman case.

Doctor Bonny Forest, a psychiatrist and a lawyer, has an interesting discussion about how juries reach their decisions.

Defense team reacts to Zimmerman trial verdict available here.  They have some interesting facts about how the prosecution massively outspent them.  That O'Mara doesn't think that the case would have been ever brought if Zimmerman was black.  In his response to the last question, O'Mara also goes after the media's responsibility for what happened in the case.


"JK Rowling publishes crime novel under false name"

Obviously it was a bit of a fudge to claim that the book was based on a military veteran's "own experiences and those of his military colleagues."  From the UK Guardian:
. . . "I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience," she said. "It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name." 
The book, about a war veteran turned private investigator called Cormoran Strike, and described by the publisher as based on [the author's] "own experiences and those of his military colleagues", has sold 1,500 copies in hardback since it was released in April. 
Also showering praise on the book was another crime writer, Mark Billingham, who described Strike as "one of the most compelling detectives I've come across in years". . . .
The NY Times provides some fairly sympathetic treatment for Rowling do this here:
. . . In one of the great publishing coups in recent years, “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” which has sold just 1,500 copies in Britain so far, turns out to have been written not by an ex-British Army officer, or by a new writer, or even by a man. Instead, its author is J. K. Rowling, whose Harry Potter novels have made her one of the world’s best-selling, and best-known, authors.Ms. Rowling was unmasked by The Sunday Times of London, which, acting on an anonymous tip, embarked on a sleuthing mission of its own and published the result on Sunday. In the article, Ms. Rowling confessed to the ruse and spoke somewhat wistfully of her brief, happy foray into anonymous authorship. . . .
Many best-selling authors like to write under pseudonyms, particularly when they venture into new genres. The Irish novelist John Banville, a Man Booker Prize winner, publishes detective novels under the name Benjamin Black. Anne Rice has written erotic fiction as A. N. Roquelaure. Early in his career, Stephen King published several novels using the name Richard Bachman. . . .
First he did some Internet detective work, finding many similarities between “The Casual Vacancy” and “The Cuckoo’s Calling.” Both books shared the same agent, publisher and editor in Britain, for example. It seemed particularly odd, he said, that the editor, David Shelley, would be in charge of both someone as important as J. K. Rowling — a very big job, indeed — and someone as seemingly unimportant as Robert Galbraith.He then started reading the book. “I said, ‘Nobody who was in the Army and now works in civilian security could write a book as good as this,’ ” he said. Next, he sent copies of “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” “The Casual Vacancy” and the last Harry Potter novel, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” to a pair of computer linguistic experts, who found significant similarities among them.Mr. Brooks, too, noted that “The Cuckoo’s Calling” contained some Latin phrases, as the Harry Potter books do, and that it had scenes of drug taking, as “The Casual Vacancy” does. . . . 


Newest Fox News piece: "We never should have witnessed a Zimmerman trial"

Here is the way my piece started:
The George Zimmerman case should never have been brought. Saturday night after the “not guilty” verdict was delivered, State Attorney Angela Corey justified bringing the case “to put the facts out there.” But criminal cases should never be brought simply to put the facts before the public.
No one should be charged with a crime unless prosecutors themselves really believe that the person committed a crime.
Yet, the prosecution and their own experts’ language consistently showed a lack of certainty. Prosecutors aren’t supposed to bring cases where the best they can say is that something might “possibly” have happened or that there was a “chance” that it did. . . .

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Some science (really science) on why men like women's breasts

From Live Science:
Why do straight men devote so much headspace to those big, bulbous bags of fat drooping from women's chests? Scientists have never satisfactorily explained men's curious breast fixation, but now, a neuroscientist has struck upon an explanation that he says "just makes a lot of sense." 
Larry Young, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University who studies the neurological basis of complex social behaviors, thinks human evolution has harnessed an ancient neural circuit that originally evolved to strengthen the mother-infant bond during breast-feeding, and now uses this brain circuitry to strengthen the bond between couples as well. The result? Men, like babies, love breasts
When a woman's nipples are stimulated during breast-feeding, the neurochemical oxytocin, otherwise known as the "love drug," floods her brain, helping to focus her attention and affection on her baby. But research over the past few years has shown that in humans, this circuitry isn't reserved for exclusive use by infants. . . .


Teaching first graders in Missouri about gun-safety

From Fox News:
Missouri schools will be encouraged to teach first-graders a gun safety course sponsored by the National Rifle Association as a result of legislation signed Friday by Gov. Jay Nixon.
The new law stops short of requiring schools to teach the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program. But by putting it in state law, Missouri is providing one of the stronger state-sanctioned endorsements of the NRA-sponsored firearms safety course, which the group says is taught to about 1 million children annually.
The legislation also requires school personnel to participate in an “active shooter and intruder” drill led by law enforcement officers. . . . .

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Footnote on the Zimmerman Verdict: One of the jurors was apparently black

Local media in Florida gave a lot more detail about juror B-29.  Here is story from TV Channel 10 in South Florida:
The only woman of color sworn in as a juror in the George Zimmerman trial Thursday is being identified as juror B-29. Her ethnicity is unclear.
“We understand she is Hispanic,” Attorney Benjamin Crump said Thursday. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara said she was black, but her ethnicity was not on the record. In court, Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda identified her as "black" but was unsure if she was Hispanic.
She is also one of the two jurors who did not live in Seminole County when Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin Feb. 26, 2012. She moved from Chicago four months ago, so she said she was not familiar with the case. . . 
You can determine whether someone is white or black by looking at them, but determining whether they are Hispanic is not anywhere near as obvious.