Emmitt Till and Trayvon Martin, has anything really changed?

                The murder of Emmitt Till was a seminal moment in the Civil Rights movement. Emmitt Till was 14 year old African American boy who was murdered in Mississipi in1955. Till was from Chicago, Illinois and was visisting his relatives in Money, Mississppi. His crime, speaking to a married white woman named Carolyn Bryant. She was a married proprietor of a local grocery store.

A few nights after the murder, Bryant’s husband Roy and his half brother J.W. Milam arrived at Till’s great uncle’s house. They took Till to a barn, beat him, gouged out one of his eyes and then shot him in the head. They disposed of his body in the Tallahatchie River, weighed the body down with a 70 pound cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. His body was found 3 days later.

Till’s body was returned to Chicago to his mother. His mother who had raised him mostly by herself, insisted on a public funeral to show the world the brutality of the killing. Tens of thousands attended the funeral and images of his mutilated body were published in black magazines and newspapers. Media scrutiny was intense on the condition of Civil Rights in Mississippi, with newspapers nationwide critical of the state. Initially local newpapers and law enforcement decried the violence against Till, calling for justice. They soon responded to the criticism by defending Mississippians, which soon turned into support for the killers.

The trial was a press event. Problems identifying Till’s body effected the trial. This partially led to the aquittal of Till’s kidnappers and murderers. Several months after the trial during a magazine interview, protected by double jeopardy, both admitted to the kidnapping and murder.

Fast forward 58 years to the George Zimmerman trial. A m an is on trial for the murder of a 17 year old African American child, Trayvon Martin. He followed Martin although the 911 operator told him not to. He startedan altercation with a minor and then shot him during the altercation, killing him. Those are the facts, evrything else really didn’t matter, but Zimmerman was aquitted and now walks around with the gun he used to kill Martin. All because of a law created by the lobbyist group ALEC and that is spreading across the country.

Republicans generally supported Zimmerman and his Stand Your Ground Rights. Democrats and President Obama supported justice for the teen armed with Skittles and Arizona Ice Tea. This is a major step backwards for Civil Rights in America. The Stand Your Ground Law only seems to apply to white people. A black women in Florida, who had history of being battered by her husband fired a gun in the air. Didnt even shoot him. She got 20 years in jail. These are both racially biased decisions that effect all of America going forward. This is not the America I believe in. If you believe in this kind of America, you do not represent progress, you truly represent Sharia Law.

The Zimmerman trial is a waste of taxpayer money.

              The facts are clear. George Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin, after the 911 dispatcher told him not to. He followed him, started altercation and then shot a teenage boy. Trayvon Martin’s previous record does not matter, he is not on trial here. But Don West and Marc O’Meara, defense attorneys for George Zimmerman,  want to paint this case as Martin threatening Zimmermans life.

Each day the defense is going to try to cast a shred of doubt, that he did not cause the problem. That Martin caused it and Zimmerman reacted because his life was threatened. But this does not change the facts of the case. Why did Zimmerman follow Martin? Why was he carrying a gun? How did the Head of the Crime Watch not know the street name in a 3 street developement? This casts plenty of doubt on Zimmerman’s side of the story.

The only reason Zimmerman is not in jail is because an ALEC and NRA sponsored law. Stand Your Ground Law is what is really on trial. If Zimmerman gets away with cold blooded murder it sets a new precedent. It allows a citizen to become judge, jury and executioner. This is vigilante justice, which is illegal. Even in the Marines we could not use deadly force, shoot someone unlesd shot at. Why does a citizen have a right the military and police do not?

This is also a case based on profiling. George Zimmerman profiled Trayvon Martin because of his color. If this was a white kid who was killed, Zimmerman would be jailed. But that is not the case and that is why we are watching this joke of a trial. If Zimmerman walks there will without a doubt be riots. Justifiably so, but more people and property will be hurt because of this horrible law. This is a shame.

Pennsylvania backlog on Food Stamp approvals caused by lack of caseworkers and focus on fraud.

                   Already being bashed for the amount of time it takes to process unemployment checks and home-energy assistance claims, Pennsylvania is also lacking in approving Food Stamp applications. It has compelled the Federal Government to order the state to improve its performance. Pennsylvania ranks among the worst in the country in processing Food Stamp applications within 30 days, which is a Federal Law. That is according to Enquirer examination of data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA ranks Pennsylvania 39th on a list of 53 that includes the 50 states, District of Columbia, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Critics say the backlogs are caused by lack of caseworkers and emphasizing fraud prevention. Statistics say that Food Stamp fraud is quite rare. The results of the system being run this way is that families who are in need go withouts benefits they qualify for.

Anne Bale a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Welfare in Pennsylvania acknowledged the problem. She said the DPW, which oversees Pennsylvania’s Food Stamp program is working on a solution. The USDA ordered Pennsylvania to fix the problem in December 2012. She said one reason for the poor performance was the amount of people recieving benefits. There are 1.8 million Pennsylvanians on Food Stamps. The state also rank s 49th in job creation.

Bale blamed the poor performance on program recipients, saying they waited until the last minute to submit paperwork. If you are applying for the program, are the people informed of a time limit to fill out the paperwork. That seems like a cop out, a bad excuse. It seems more likely the delays are caused by the lack of caseworkers and the time spent looking for fraud.

According to USDA figures New York had 3.1 million SNAP program recipients, yet processed 90.94% of its benefits in the proper time frame. Florids has 3.5 million recipients, yet processed 94.01% in the proper time frame. Pennsylvania’s most recent timeliness rating was 81.44%, far below that of other states with far more program recipients. Any state below 90% must devise a plan that brings its timeliness up to 95% according to USDA rules.

The way this program is run is a direct reflection on Governor Tom Corbetts’s attitude about out of work or poor Pennsylvanians. He said they are to lazy and most are on drugs preventing them from improving themselves. Although statistics have show his opinions to be way off base. The Republican party as a whole looks upon those in need with disdain and attempted to cut SNAP benefits by 25% in a recent Farm Bill that Democrats smartly defeated. President Obama and the Democrats realized during the Great Recession that people needed help and provided it. Republicans, who caused the Great Recession could care less. They are focused on manufacturing scandals to impeach President Obama. Shows who cares about the people.

The opening stages of the George Zimmerman trial started today.

                 17 year old Trayvon Martin was walking down the street with a pack of skittles and an iced tea; when George Zimmerman decided he was dangerous. Something clicked in Zimmerman’s head saying Martin was dangerou. Zimmerman called 911, which told him not to follow, Zimmerman ignored them. He followed anyway, a conflict followed. In the end Trayvon Martin lie on the ground dead from Zimmerman shooting him.

The question here us not whether Zimmerman is guilty of shooting Martin, that has already been established. The question is whether it was in self-defense or not. Under the Florida Stand Your Ground Law, several other states have adopted similar laws, Texas was in the news for it most recently, you do not have to retreat if you are threatened. It authorizes you to use deadly force if you feel you are threatened. This was an ALEC model bill that has had a negative effect on society.

Unfortunately the focus of this case will be on a bogus law passed by Republicans, with tremendous support from ALEC. The focus of the case should be on the fact that a grown man followed a child, instigated an altercation with a minor and then killed the minor during the struggle. These are the unmitigated facts of the case. A grown man killed a child, how does some bogus law make that ok. Is this the kind of country we want to live in? The Judiciary System has been removed by a man known to be touched in his head.

The implications of this case are far reaching. If Zimmerman is found innocent, people have been given the ok to kill basically at will. I can shoot my neighbor because we exchanged cross words, as long as I felt threatened. If Zimmerman is found guilty, well that is a victory against big business, the Republican party and deals a major blow to the laws ALEC and the NRA are trying to push. I want to know how these laws slipped past Democrat lawmakers. Lobbyist and Republicans are trying to turn this into a free for all to please the gun nuts. How about pleasing the majority of Americans, we don’t want these laws.

Texas vigilante law allows the use of deadly force to retrieve stolen goods at night.

                A Texas jury aquitted a man for the murder of a woman he hired as an escort. His lawyers claimed he used deadly force after she refused sex. Ezekiel Gilbert shot Lenora Ivie Frago in the neck on Christmas eve 2009. She denied his request for sex and wouldn’t return the $150 that he paid her.

               Under Texas law, an individual is authorized to use deadly force to retrieve stolrn property at night. Gilbert’s lawyers cited that provision as justification for his actions. They say Frago had stolen $150 from him by taking his money and not delivering sex. In a police interview played for jurors, Gilbert nevered mentioned anything about theft. Frago, who was 21, was critically injured and died several months later. Her occupation seems to have altered the jury’s decision. I don’t think they would have ruled in his favor if she was not an escort. Add the fact that he had to find her for any of this to occur and it seriously clouds the verdict.

While Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, which made headlines because of the murder of Trayvon Martin, authorizes the use of deadly force without having to retreat in defense of one’s person or home. Texas’ law goes well beyond this. Ot allows the use of deadly force in protection of any tangible or movable property. The Texas law not only authorizes the use of deadly force to retrieve stolen property at night but also during criminal mischief at nighttime. Deadly force is even authorized to prevent someone who is fleeing immeadiately after a theft during the night or a burglary or robber, so long as the individual reasonably thinks their property cannot be protected by other means. It seems as if the Texas legislature thinks we should return to the Wild West.

This law allows individuals to become vigilantes, which is illegal. It allows them to impose the death penalty for crimes that would not warrant the death penalty. Even with Texas law making vigilante justice legal, it is difficult to see how Gilbert’s behavior can be justified. Especially given that escorts are not entitled to deliver sex under the law and delivering sex for money is illegal.

While it is similar to Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, which was supported by the NRA and the Koch Brothers, the Texas law goes even further. Texas and the Republucan majority in the state government further and further away from sanity. The Koch Brothers and the NRA have their fingerprints on these laws all over the country. These are the type of laws that move us backward in history. The NRA has their hands so far in the Republican party’s pocket they can scratch thrir knee. Democrats have to stay vigilant and united to stop these laws before they happen and possibly remove money from American politics. President Obama wants gun control and Republicans do the complete opposite in their obstructionist way.

     

ALEC trying to eliminate paid sick leave in Florida.

                  ALEC is helping Florida Republicans push forward a bill that would prevent any municipality in the state from adopting their own paid sick leave laws. Efforts to stop paid sick leave are collectively referred to as preemption bills. They are , of course, orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, a right wing group trying to coordinate conservative laws across states. ALEC is also responsible for the heinous Stand Your Ground Laws.

            Florida Republicans are following Wisconsin Governor Scott Walkers lead on paid sick leave. These bills enable state government to block local government from passing paid sick leave laws. Walker did this in his first months in office, overturning a sick leave law voted in by the people of Milwaukee, 69% voted for it. When did Wisconsin become a dictatorship? How were the peoples democratic rights stripped from them?

                 Sick leave is an issue strongly supported by Democrats. There are a few different versions of paid sick leave. The most popular being pro allow workers without benefits (part-timers and low wage earners) to earn a certain number of paid sick days off a year. Another is earning paid sick leave by working a certain amount of hours. Studies show that covering workers with earned sick leave helps lower health care costs. It strengthens worker loyalty and increases worker productivity for the 40% of private sector workers and 80% of low income workers who lack the ability to take a day off while sick and get paid for it. A post 2012 election poll by Lake Research Partners and the Tarrance Group, found that fully 86% of national voters would support paid sick days, including 96% of Democrats.

           In August 2011 at ALECs annual meeting, tie Wisconsin Act 16 bill wad passed out to attendees. It was a model for state override of paid sick leave. ALEC also has a model legislation that would preempt local living wage requirements. ALECs slate of bills promoting a race to the bottom in wages and working conditions for the American workforce was recently detailed in a report by National Employment Law Project. If Florida does follow Wisconsins lead on this bill it would be a severe blow to Workers Rights.

                This is why many people believe that our system is broken. A group like ALEC, which is a collection of corporations and wealthy individuals, seems to have more power than even local government. President Obama needs to address Workers Rights in order to protect employees from employers overstepping their rights. If the Republicans had their way, we would be like fuedal China, with employees being indentured servants. Sounds far fetched, but there was actually a document being passed through corporations which referred to us as peasents. Whats next? The ability to not pay us.

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