1. (BILL DAY | Copyright 2014 Cagle Cartoons)

    The week’s best editorial cartoons

     

  2. Syria’s breaking point. More editorial cartoons here.

     


  3. If Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?
    — President Obama
     


  4. Enacting tougher gun laws is hard enough. Changing attitudes on race is even harder

     

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  6. An unidentified Florida businessman is selling gun range targets designed to make people feel like they’re shooting Trayvon Martin. The target shows a silhouette in a black hoodie, holding Skittles and a can of iced tea, with a huge bullseye on it. The businessman admits he’s only in it for the money, adding that he sold out of the targets in two days.

    The reaction

     

  7. When reporters and pundits describe the upcoming trial of Florida neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman — facing second-degree murder charges for the shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin — as the ‘trial of the century,’ take it with a grain of salt.

    That particular phrase is widely overused:

    1. O.J. Simpson murder trial
      "That image of the white Bronco speeding down the freeway is forever burned into our minds, and it was only the start of what would become one of the most unbelievable trials of the century. On June 17, [1994,] O.J. was expected to turn himself in for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend. But O.J. never showed up to the police station." (Kristin Wong, Hollyscoop, Nov. 7, 2011)
    2. Microsoft antitrust trial
      "Forget O.J. The real ‘trial of the century’ is taking place right now in a Washington, D.C., court room., where mighty Microsoft Corp. is going toe to toe with the U.S. Department of Justice." (John Moran, Hartford Courant, Dec. 24, 1998)

    3. Bill Clinton impeachment
      "The impeachment trial of President Clinton will be the ‘trial of the century.’ We know this is true in the same way we know so many other things are true — because everybody says so. ‘It will truly be the trial of the century,’ Alan Dershowitz wrote in USA Today. ‘It will be the real trial of the century,’ Tom Brokaw said on NBC News. ‘Without doubt, the trial of the century,’ Cynthia McFadden said on ABC News. ‘Trial of the Century,’ reads the huge headline on the cover of the Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine. The Independent, a liberal London newspaper, agrees. So does Agence France-Presse. And the New York Post, the New York Daily News, the Detroit News, and the Rock Hill (S.C.) News, all of which termed the upcoming impeachment battle ‘the trial of the century.’” (Peter Carlson, The Washington Post, Jan. 4, 1999)

    4. Martha Stewart obstruction-of-justice trial
      "It is Trial of the Century time again, and Martha Stewart, America’s doyenne of domesticity — perhaps the only woman in the world who decants her washing-up liquid — is in big trouble. The preliminary skirmishes are over, the media circus is assembled, and on January 12 at the Manhattan Federal Courthouse, a jury will be asked to decide if Martha is a crook." (William Langley, Britain’s Daily Telegraph, Jan. 4, 2004)

    6 other supposed ‘trials of the century’

     

  8. Will George Zimmerman get a fair trial? Michael Filoz at American Thinker sure doesn’t think so, saying everyone from the New black Panthers to “professional race-baiter” Al Sharpton to boxer Mike Tyson has called for Zimmerman’s head, and even President Obama has weighed in.

    Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post disagrees: The “court of public opinion has been working overtime” she writes, but the real “judicial system prosecutes high-profile, high publicity cases regularly.”

    Keep reading

     

  9. George Zimmerman’s murder charge, explained

    Seven long weeks later, George Zimmerman has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder. 

    Why murder instead of manslaughter? Many defense attorneys were surprised that Angela Corey, the Florida state attorney, opted for the tougher charge. Their conclusion: “Corey and her team of prosecutors must know something that the rest of us don’t,” says Dan Sullivan in the Tampa Bay Times.

    What happens now that he has been charged? Zimmerman will be arraigned Thursday, and can ask to be released on bail. It’s possible that the 28-year-old could be granted bail because he has proved that he’s not a flight risk. But if he does get bail, he will almost surely remain under protective custody.

    Will Florida’s gun law protect Zimmerman? To win immunity under the law, the burden of proof is on the defendant, and few meet it to a judge’s satisfaction. “Most judges, I think, are comfortable letting the adversarial system play out before a jury rather than make decisions themselves,” Ralph Behr tells Reuters. During Wednesday’s press conference, state attorney Angela Corey told reporters, “If ‘stand your ground’ is an issue, we’ll fight it.”

    How much jail time could he get, and what is the most likely outcome

     


  10. Is George Zimmerman’s story falling apart?

    Forensic voice identification experts tell the Orlando Sentinel that the final screams before the fatal gunshot — captured in a neighbor’s 911 call — aren’t from Zimmerman. Following last week’s release of police video showing an apparently unharmed Zimmerman soon after Martin allegedly beat his head on the ground, “the pile of evidence bringing Zimmerman’s claims into question grows deeper every day,” says Timothy Lange at Daily Kos

    How do the experts know, and how damning is this clue? 

     

  11. It’s getting increasingly difficult to keep up with the Trayvon Martin story. Here’s what you need to know:

    The Trayvon Martin case: A comprehensive timeline

     


  12. For weeks, all the world saw of him was an unsmiling 2005 mug shot. As investigators and reporters try to piece together why the Floridian shot a black boy 10 years younger and dozens of pounds lighter, a fuzzy picture of Zimmerman is emerging. Here’s what we know so far:

    • What is Zimmerman’s basic biography?
      George Michael Zimmerman was born in 1983, the third of four children of Robert and Gladys Zimmerman. Robert, a retired military man and magistrate judge, describes the family as multiracial, telling the Orlando Sentinel that “George is a Spanish-speaking minority with many black family members and friends.” Gladys is of Peruvian descent. George grew up in Manassas, Va., where neighbors describe the Zimmermans as very religious — George was an altar boy and evening receptionist at the family’s parish, All Saints Catholic Church. The Zimmerman children attended Catholic school through eighth grade, then public high school. The family moved to Florida about a decade ago. George married Shellie Nicole Dean, a cosmetologist, in 2007.
       
    • What does he do for a living?
      At the time he shot Martin, Zimmerman was working as an underwriter at mortgage risk-management firm Digital Risk. He had also been working on an associates degree at Seminole State College from 2009, with an eye toward law enforcement, until the school pushed him out after the shooting, citing safety reasons. In 2008, Zimmerman completed a 14-week citizens’ police academy program offered by the Seminole Sheriff’s Department. Zimmerman has also worked in the past as an insurance agent, and at a credit card company that garnished his wages to recoup unpaid debt.

    Has he had any previous run-ins with the law? What’s his political party? How long had he been a neighborhood watchman? More on Zimmerman

     

  13. Why isn’t Trayvon Martin’s killer under arrest? On Feb. 26, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot dead in Sanford, Fla., by self-appointed neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, 28. But so far, Zimmerman, who is half Latino, has not been arrested or charged for killing an unarmed youth. Why? Here, three theories

    1. Florida’s “Shoot First” gun law makes prosecution futile
    The 2005  ”Stand Your Ground” law allows permitted gun owners like Zimmerman to use lethal force on anybody, in any public space, if they reasonably believe it will “prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.” Courts say the burden is on prosecutors to prove that the shooter was not acting in self-defense. According to Henry Pierson Curtis of the Orlando Centennial  ”In case after case during the past six years, Floridians who shot and killed unarmed opponents have not been prosecuted.” 

    2. The local cops were negligent and sloppy
    The police either lied or didn’t know about Zimmerman’s past run-in with the law, evident vigilanteism, and 46 calls to 911 since Jan. 1, says Adam Weinstein at Mother Jones. Then there’s a witness’ allegation that a Stanford cop told her to change her story to hearing Zimmerman — not Martin — call for help, Martin’s mysteriously vanished cellphone, the police’s inexplicable failure to test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol, and the police department’s troubling history of not prosecuting attacks on black people.

    3. Martin was black and Zimmerman isn’t
    "Activists have gravitated towards racism as the prime motive for the shooting," and it’s hard to disagree, says Chauncey DeVega at Salon. And “common sense renders a clear judgement here: If a black man shot and killed a white kid for holding a bag of Skittles he would already be [in] jail.”