Stand Your Ground And Self-Defense In Florida

Anger over deaths caused by guns is boiling in Florida this summer. And controversy over the “stand your ground” legal principle in the state’s self-defense law is reaching a frenzy.

Please, let’s all take a deep breath, step back, and think about this slowly and carefully. It’s important for us to get the issues and facts straight. Fortunately, the Tampa Bay Times has published on each of the past two days excellent front-page news reports regarding the shooting death at a convenience store in Clearwater and the resulting controversy.

I recommend that everyone read the following two stories from start to finish. Not just the front page but the jump to an inside page. The stories are available on the Times website.

STORY ONE –“IN STAND YOUR GROUND CASES, DOES IT MATTER WHO STARTED IT?” With the secondary headline, “Not when the provocation is verbal, experts say, as the McGlockton case may show.” By Kathryn Varn, Tampa Bay Times, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018, starting on the front page and continuing on page 4A. Importantly, the Times also published on the front page four large time-lapse photos that show quite clearly what happened outside the convenience store. Those photos may be the most important evidence in the case. They were provided by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s  Office. Clearwater is a city in Pinellas County. Many additional photos are on page 4A.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who has a law degree, has investigated the shooting death at the convenience store, and he is one of the people at the center of the controversy because he has declined to arrest the shooter, citing the stand-your-ground principal of Florida law. The case is not closed however, because the sheriff has forwarded the case to the state attorney, who has the final decision on whether to charge the shooter and prosecute the case.

STORY TWO — ” ‘Lock him up, or give up your badge’ ” With the secondary headline, “Marchers, candidates and civil rights activists call for an arrest in a store shooting and the repeal of the state’s stand your ground law.” By Tracey McManus and Langston Taylor, Tampa Bay Times, Monday, Aug. 6, 2018, starting on the front page and continuing on page 8A. The Times also published on the front page a large photo including the Rev. Al Sharpton and civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump at a Baptist church service Sunday afternoon. All five Democratic candidates for Florida governor in the November election and one candidate for state attorney general attended the church service and spoke from the pulpit, according to the news story. It said about 400 people filled the church and an additional 300 demonstrated outside.

Also on the front page is a photo of Markeis McGlockton, the black man who died from the gunshot. Also, a photo of protesters marching in Clearwater to demand justice for the deceased man. Notably, the protest-march photo shows numerous signs with the words: “MICHAEL DREJKA: THE PEOPLE SAY GUILTY.” Michael Drejka is the white man who fired the fatal shot at the convenience store. On page 8A is a photo of Crump holding Mr. McGlockton’s five-year-old son as Crump speaks at the  protest rally.

I believe that the above two news reports, taken together, and the accompanying photos, provide a comprehensive overview of the facts and issues. If the Tampa Bay Times continues such comprehensive coverage of the controversy, I believe the stories taken together might earn the paper a Pulitzer Prize.

I have to study the reports carefully, and still I have difficulty understanding the fine lines drawn around the right of self-defense.

— John Hayden



Misinformation About Protesting Coal Miners in Ukraine

Misinformation is a dangerous plague spread throughout the Web and what remains of the Mainstream Media. Propaganda and lies have always been with us. But before the rise of cable TV and the internet, newspapers in the West were able to filter out the worst misinformation. Many newspapers and journalists were dedicated to finding and reporting the truth, and they had sufficient resources for the job. With the demise of the newspaper industry, it’s now possible for propagandists to manufacture a fake “reality” at will and spread it unchecked. It’s becoming nearly impossible for the average person to know what’s real and what’s lies, unless you’re an actual eyewitness, or you have reliable sources. And of course any one eyewitness can touch only one small part of the elephant. Informed bloggers such as Clarissa try to counter misinformation. Well-informed bloggers can be reliable sources. Of course, it’s not easy to identify the informed bloggers, and their reach is small compared to the power of state-sponsored misinformation. Thanks to Clarissa for providing a steady stream of reliable information about Ukraine. — John

Clarissa's Blog

Right-wing publications are as dedicated to pushing Putinoid propaganda as the Leftie pro-Putin rag The Nation. Kremlin propaganda is always offered under the sauce of “We really want Ukraine to succeed but let’s keep in mind this string of Putin-generated myths that we will pretend have a connection to reality.”

Here is how The American Interest does it (and mind you, this is just one tiny example):

Throughout last week, armies of coal miners stormed Kyiv’s government district to protest unpaid wages and call for the sacking of Ukraine’s energy minister.

Of course, there were no “armies of coal miners.” The “coal miners” are actors whom we have already seen appear in Russian news segments as bus drivers from Lugansk, separatists in Gorlovka, persecuted Russian-speakers in Donetsk, etc. The moment I saw the very first newscast about the “protesting coal miners”, I immediately recognized one of them as the fake…

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Washington Post Partners With TRAVELZOO

Update on, an innovative new service brought to you by the formerly great newspaper, The Washington Post. Now owned by Jeff Bezos.

“Ramen and cocktails for two” is the featured Capitol Deal today. Usually $56; via Capitol Deal, only $29!

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Stop The Presses! Forget About News! Advertising Delivered Direct To Your Inbox!

The Washington Post Business section for Sunday Jan. 12, 2014 was ALL BUSINESS, I’m happy to report.

After this blog’s unkind criticism of the Sunday business section last week, it’s only fair to note the impressive week-over-week improvement.

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A Homeless Guy, A Billionaire, And A Dumpster. Be Happy.

blue dumpster

So a rich guy and a homeless guy walk into a bar . . .

Sorry, let me start over. So a rich guy and a homeless guy walk into a dumpster . . .

One more time. A rich guy and a homeless guy walk into The Washington Post . . .

America is officially a “Tale of Two Cities,” as New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says.

The grand canyon between extreme wealth and abject poverty has grown so wide and deep that we have lost all perspective. We have become indifferent and uncaring.

It’s common for the rich, especially, to believe that poor people choose to be poor. The rich imagine the poor are HAPPY.

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Cartoonist Takes Over Business Section Of Newspaper

Of course you want to be happy in 2014! Doesn’t everybody?

Let me save you some time and eyestrain. Don’t bother reading the “happiness” story referred to in the previous post.

I won’t even name the formerly great newspaper. It’s too embarrassing. (Hint: The newspaper’s flag at one time included the words “And Times-Herald.” Jeff Bezos owns the paper now.)

To his credit, the author of the piece, Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip “Dilbert,” is totally, completely honest.

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If You Could Have What You Want, What Would It Be?

So I get up this morning, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. It’s cold, gray, wet. The bleakest day in a string of bleak days. And here’s this headline in the newspaper:

“Read this if you want to be happy in 2014”

A headline among headlines! Maybe not the best headline, because it doesn’t tell you the subject of the story, it doesn’t tell you what happened, it doesn’t tell you THE NEWS.

“Read this if you want to be happy in 2014”

I have to read that story. I need to read that story. I must read that story. It’s the ultimate headline, the best headline ever written.

I wonder what the story’s going to tell me? “Read this if you want to be happy in 2014.”

Find out what happens next, here.

— John