April 6th, 2012
WFSU / By Lynn Hatter
The death of a black teen at the hands of a neighborhood watchman has caught the attention of the nation, dominated media headlines and put a spotlight on Florida’s gun laws. But Lynn Hatter reports in the weeks since the death of Trayvon Martin, the focus on the circumstances surrounding the teen’s death has also created backlash against the media for misleading and sometimes inaccurate coverage.
NBC has been criticized for the way it edited 9-11 calls that portray the alleged shooter, George Zimmerman, as racially insensitive. Here is the original audio tape:
Zimmerman: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around looking about."
Operator: "Is he white, black or Hispanic?"
Zimmerman: “He looks black.”
And here is the edited NBC version of what was said:
“This guy looks like he’s up to no good…he looks black.”
What’s missing from the NBC version is context.
Also under criticism is ABC, for comments about the surveillance footage of Zimmerman at the Sanford Police Department shortly after the shooting. The commentators said Zimmerman appeared uninjured.
And then, there’s the issue of the pictures. For Zimmerman, a mug-shot photo. For Trayvon Martin, a photo of him as a younger kid. Both not true representations of the people as they would appear today.
Rallies like the one in Tallahassee on the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr., have occurred across the county in the wake of Martin’s death. The black teen was killed in the Central Florida community of Sanford following an altercation with neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, who is Hispanic. Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense and hasn’t been charged with a crime.
Differing versions of what happened continue to unfold, some people, like Tallahassee Mayor John Marks, are calling for restraint and to let the judicial process run its course.
“We must remain vigilant. We have to. We must ensure justice is done. And we will. We must make sure that the court system operates appropriately for everybody in this circumstance. We’re not here to try anybody in the streets or through the press or anything like that. We just want the justice system to work as it should. The truth will come out.”
That pointed remark about being tried in the press is part of a bigger issue. Kelly McBride is with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.
“Those are very specific instances involving very specific news organizations. I don’t think most people generalize to most media based on the actions of a single news organization, because media is so much bigger than that. In the work I’ve done on this case, I’m not seeing people criticize the media overall.”
McBride is tracking the effects of the coverage of the Trayvon Martin case, and the role of commentators in spreading accurate and inaccurate information.
“And you may ask, do commentators more often create distortions and inaccurate impressions of a particular case? In this case, I think the commentators are definitely speaking to a specific audience and a subset. But I don’t think they’ve been more responsible for inaccuracies than anyone else.”
Other outlets have come under fire for the way they’ve portrayed Trayvon Martin with reports that he was suspended from school for marijuana residue found in his bookbag. There are also allegations that it was Martin who threw the first punch in the run-up to his shooting—something the alleged shooter, George Zimmerman has maintained in his claims of self-defense. Meanwhile, state and federal law enforcement agencies are still investigating how Martin ended up dead, while walking home with an iced tea and a bag of skittles. And the true details of the investigation won’t be revealed until those investigations are finished.
April 6th, 2012
(CBS/AP) VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Two Navy pilots ejected from a fighter jet after dumping loads of fuel to avoid a major explosion Friday, sending their unmanned plane careening into a Virginia Beach apartment complex and engulfing several buildings in flames, officials said.
Seven people, including both pilots, were injured, officials said. The Navy said both aviators on board the jet ejected before it crashed around noon and were being taken to hospitals for observation.
Bruce Nedelka, the Virginia Beach EMS division chief, said that witnesses saw fuel being dumped from the jet before it went down, and that fuel was found on buildings and vehicles in the area.
"By doing so, he mitigated what could have been an absolute massive, massive fireball and fire," Nedelka said. "With all of that jet fuel dumped, it was much less than what it could have been."
The crash happened in the Hampton Roads area, which has a large concentration of military bases, including Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world. Naval Air Station Oceana, where the F/A-18D that crashed was assigned, is located in Virginia Beach.
Dozens of police cars, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles filled the densely populated neighborhood where the plane crashed. Yellow fire hoses snaked through side streets as fire crews poured water on the charred rooftops of brick apartment houses. By late afternoon, the fire had been put out.
Virginia Beach Fire Department Capt. Tim Riley said seven people were injured, including three who refused treatment. None, including the pilots, had serious injuries.
Crews had searched more than 20 units and were approaching the final six very carefully because of extreme structural damage. Riley said there was a slim chance anyone could have survived in those final units.
Residents of the apartment complex described a confusing scene and an apologetic pilot.
Pat Kavanaugh, a retired member of the Virginia Beach rescue team, says that one of the pilots landed on his back porch. He told CBS affiliate WKTR that he helped get the pilot to safety (See interview at left).
"He apologized very much for hitting our complex," said Kavanaugh, who added the pilot was in shock and had lacerations on his face.
Colby Smith said his house started shaking and then the power went out, as he saw a red and orange blaze outside his window. He ran outside, where he saw billowing black smoke and then came upon the pilot as he ran to a friend's home.
"I saw the parachute on the house and he was still connected to it, and he was laying on the ground with his face full of blood," Smith told WVEC-TV.
A multicolored parachute could be seen hanging from the roof of an apartment closest to the crash center.
As authorities closed roads in the neighborhood, traffic backed up on side streets and on nearby Interstate 264, with slow-moving columns of vehicles bringing drivers to a virtual standstill early Friday afternoon.
Edna Lukens, who works at the apartment complex across the street from the crash, said she saw three apartment buildings on fire.
"We heard this loud noise and we looked out the window and there was smoke all in the sky. Then the flames started going up in the sky, and then the apartment building just started burning and the police was called and everybody came out," Lukens said.
Felissa Ezell, 71, was sitting in a folding chair outside her townhouse near the crash site Friday and recalled hearing the crash as she returned home earlier in the day.
"Oh, my God, I heard three really loud explosions, then the black smoke went up high in the sky," she said.
The same model of fighter jet, an F/A-18D, crashed in December 2008 while returning to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar after a training exercise in a San Diego neighborhood. That crash killed four members of one family and destroyed two homes.
The Marine Corps said the jet suffered a mechanical failure, but a series of bad decisions led the pilot — a student — to bypass a potentially safe landing at a coastal Navy base after his engine failed. The pilot ejected and told investigators he screamed in horror as he watched the jet plow into the neighborhood, incinerating two homes. A federal judge ordered the U.S. government to pay the family nearly $18 million in restitution.
April 6th, 2012
The Examiner Washington
byJoel Gehrke Commentary Staff Writer
President Obama suggested this evening that the Republican governing agenda will lead to "poisoning our kids" with pollution.
"I believe that it is part of our solemn responsibility to future generations that we look after this planet; that we make sure our air is clean and our water is clean; that we’re not poisoning our kids," Obama said at a campaign fundraiser tonight. That credo came as he explained that "the contrast between visions in this election could not be more stark, because I believe that America is stronger when we’re looking for one another."
Obama's line evokes his Associated Press speech this week, when he said Republicans believe that if the government "let businesses pollute more and treat workers and consumers with impunity, that somehow we’d all be better off." Mitt Romney, at his Associated Press luncheon speech, dismissed Obama's "rhetorical excess."
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April 6th, 2012
Very little is known about the 57-year-old socialist leader's condition, including even what type of cancer he has. Chavez has undergone three operations in less than a year, and received two sessions of radiation treatment.
He says the latest surgery was successful, that he is recovering well and will be fit to win a new six-year term at an election in October. Yet big questions remain about his future, and on Thursday the strain appeared to show.
In a televised speech to the Catholic service in his home state of Barinas, Chavez cried and his voice broke as he eulogised Jesus, revolutionary fighter Ernesto "Che" Guevara and South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.
"Never forget that we are the children of giants ... I could not avoid some tears," the former soldier said, his parents and other relatives looking on from the church rows.
"Give me your crown, Jesus. Give me your cross, your thorns so that I may bleed. But give me life, because I have more to do for this country and these people. Do not take me yet," Chavez added, standing below an image of Jesus with the Crucifix.
Having dominated the continent's biggest oil exporter for the last 13 years, Chavez's sickness has thrown its politics into turmoil in the run-up to the election on Oct 7.
Flying back and forth to Havana for the radiation therapy, Chavez has been forced to run a kind of "virtual" campaign via Twitter and appearances on state television, while his opposition rival Henrique Capriles tours the country.
In his speech at the Mass, Chavez soon seemed to recover his composure, joking with his brother Adan in the congregation that few people were watching because it was the Easter holiday, when Venezuelans typically hit the country's beautiful beaches.
Chavez said he had a lot of faith that his cancer would not return after his first two operations last year – which removed a baseball sized tumour from his pelvis – but it did.
"Today, I have more faith than yesterday," he said.
"Life has been a hurricane ... but a couple of years ago my life began to become not my own anymore," the president said. "Who said the path of revolution would be easy?"
He returned to Barinas late on Wednesday from Havana, where he had undergone a second session of radiation therapy. He said it went well and that all the test results had been positive.
But in the absence of detailed information on his condition, Venezuelans have hunted for clues in his appearance each time he is on state TV. One local news website ran a large photo of his heavily perspiring brow after he disembarked from the jet.
One Venezuelan opposition journalist who has broken news on Chavez's condition in the past reported that his medical team continued to disagree among themselves over the best course, and a Brazilian blogger said he might travel there for treatment.
Chavez's election rival, Capriles, has mostly kept quiet about the president's illness, preferring to wish him a speedy recovery so that he can beat him in a fair fight at the polls.
But the youthful state government has criticised Chavez for choosing to be treated abroad, saying it sends a bad message to ordinary Venezuelans if he does not trust local doctors.
Capriles, 39, took issue this week with repeated comments by Chavez and his allies that Jesus must have been a fellow leftist radical.
"This theme is an obsession of the eternal candidate," Capriles said on Twitter, referring to Chavez. "This Holy Week, we should remember Christ was neither socialist nor capitalist."
In the latest opinion poll released last month, the president had a solid 13-percentage point lead over his opponent, but many voters remained undecided.
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April 6th, 2012
George Zimmerman handed out fliers at black Sanford churches a year ago, outraged that a white police lieutenant's son, captured on video sucker-punching a homeless black man, was not arrested on the spot, family members said.
The fliers urged people to attend a Sanford City Commission meeting and demand that the police chief be held accountable.
George Zimmerman is the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, in a Sanford neighborhood five weeks ago.
Civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the national president of the NAACP have traveled to Central Florida, calling Trayvon a victim of racial profiling and demanding that Zimmerman be arrested.
Zimmerman had spotted Trayvon walking through his neighborhood, called police and describing him as suspicious. He then followed the teenager and several minutes later, the two got into a fist fight, and Zimmerman pulled out his 9 mm semiautomatic handgun and killed the teen.
Sanford police did not arrest Zimmerman, saying they did not have enough evidence to disprove his claim of self defense.
That decision set off a storm of protest. Marchers have held rallies in Sanford, Miami, Tallahassee, Los Angeles, New York, London and several other cities. Gov. Rick Scott appointed a special prosecutor, and the U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation to determine whether Zimmerman violated Trayvon's civil rights.
Zimmerman's attorneys and father say he's not a racist.
As proof of that, Robert Zimmerman last night told Hannity that his son handed out fliers, protesting the way a homeless black man was treated by Sanford police in 2010.
Sherman Ware, who is black, was standing on the sidewalk when Justin Collison, who is white and the son of a Sanford police lieutenant, came rushing out of a Sanford bar Dec. 4 and punched him in the back of the head.
The blow knocked Ware out and sent him to the hospital. The incident was captured on video by a bystander with a cell phone, and although police saw the video that night, they made no arrest.
Orlando-area news organizations aired the video, prompting calls for Collison's arrest and the ouster of Sanford Police Chief Brian Tooley.
George Zimmerman on Jan. 2 handed out fliers at black Sanford churches, urging them to go to City Hall and demand that Tooley be held accountable, according to family members.
The following day the commission voted to oust the police chief, and Collison was arrested.
He pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of battery and was sentenced to a year of probation.
Ironically, Tonetta Foster, the sister of Sherman Ware, the man punched by Collison, took part in a Trayvon rally March 19 at the Seminole Criminal courthouse at which protesters called for Zimmerman's arrest.
"I stand for justice for Trayvon, for Sherman Ware," she said.
A lawyer for Trayvon's family, Natalie Jackson, represented Ware. She said she did not believe Zimmerman handed out any fliers. She called the family's account "race baiting".
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