Rally for Treyvon’s justice

Martin supporters rally in Sanford, demand justice for teen’s killing

Demonstrators chant during a march to police headquarters in Sanford, Florida, on Saturday.
Demonstrators chant during a march to police headquarters in Sanford, Florida, on Saturday.

Sanford, Florida (CNN) — Civil rights luminaries joined throngs of protesters carrying “Justice for Trayvon” signs on Saturday, slowly marching to the Sanford police headquarters to demand the arrest of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s killer.

“We will march on, we will rally, pray, petition, challenge elected officials, judges, law enforcement, attorneys, in the court house and in the White House, until justice for Trayvon Martin is real,” high school senior Clarence Moore III, a member of the NAACP’s College and Youth Division.

Roslyn Brock, chairwoman of the NAACP board of directors, urged demonstrators to turn their anger into constructive action, telling them to register and vote.

“Your vote is the key that will unlock justice in this community,” she said.

Organizers said demonstrators arrived on buses from around Florida and the Southeast to participate in the rally, which came 34 days after neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman fatally shot Martin after calling police to report him as a suspicious person.

Zimmerman says he killed Martin in self-defense on February 26 after the teen punched him and slammed his head on the sidewalk before the fatal shooting, according to an Orlando Sentinel report that was later confirmed by Sanford police. Martin’s family and supporters say the teen was racially profiled and unfairly killed.

The Sanford police department has come under intense scrutiny for its actions following the shooting, and protesters renewed their call for the firing of police Chief Bill Lee, who stepped aside temporarily this month amid the criticism.

“The same thing that happened to Trayvon Martin can happen to your kids as well,” said “Seminole County NAACP President Turner Clayton. “We want a clean house at Sanford P.D.”

Authorities have said Zimmerman was not immediately charged because there were no grounds, at the outset, to disprove his account that he had acted to protect himself. Critics say that Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, deemed Martin “suspicious” and decided to follow him against the advice of a police dispatcher because the teen was black.

Civil rights figures, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton, NAACP President Ben Jealous and others joined the marchers at the rally, saying the incident was only the latest in a long string of incidents with black men, particularly, as victims of racially motivated crimes.

“We’re here to say save our sons, bring Mr. Zimmerman to justice,” Jealous said.

At a news conference that preceded the march, Jealous and Sharpton took pains to rebut reports that Sharpton’s National Action Network was considering a boycott of Sanford or Seminole County.

Sharpton said such a boycott was “never on the table.” But he said he would consider action against businesses supporting efforts on behalf of Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which police have cited as a reason they could not arrest Zimmerman.

The law allows people to use deadly force anywhere they feel a reasonable threat of death or serious injury. Critics say it is a “shoot first” law that justifies violence.

A special prosecutor appointed by Gov. Rick Scott is investigating the case, as is the U.S. Department of Justice.

An open letter on the NAACP’s website — directed at the special prosecutor, Angela Corey — points to what it calls “evidence of racial bias, investigative mishaps, and the true nature of the circumstances surrounding Trayvon’s killing (that) have shaken us to the core…

“However, nothing shakes us more than the knowledge that Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, remains free.”

The letter ends with a plea for Corey “to prosecute the case judiciously, and to passionately pursue justice.”

In an interview Thursday with CNN’s Piers Morgan, the shooter’s brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., questioned the competence of and the job done by Corey’s office thus far.

Opinion: Martin’s death more than teachable moment

He cited leaks of details — which have not been confirmed to have come from Corey or her office — and described the account that his brother “chased a person” as “absolutely false.”

“Ms. Corey’s investigation has been compromised,” the brother said.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi stood staunchly behind Corey, in an interview Friday with CNN’s John King. She noted that Scott appointed Corey after consulting with her.

Corey “is ethical. She is honest. She is tough as nails. She is compassionate,” Bondi said. “And if any leaks are coming out of this investigation, it is certainly not from Angela Corey’s office.”

Bondi added that she thought criticism of Corey — both by those, like Robert Zimmerman Jr., who support George Zimmerman and those calling for his prompt arrest — “completely undermines the integrity of the investigation.”

In Depth: CNN peels back the layers

She said that she’s spoken to Martin’s parents, whom she called “amazing people,” as well as the family’s lawyers, whom she described as “friends of mine.” Everyone involved, Bondi said, would be best off if they “wait and let (the investigation) happen.”

That means being patient in the face of fervent demands from activists that Zimmerman be detained and charged as soon as possible, said the attorney general.

“You never want to make an arrest too soon,” Bondi said. “We need justice, but you never want to make an arrest without having all the answers.”

While George Zimmerman has not spoken out about the case, his family members have taken their case public this week. Besides the brother, Robert Zimmerman Sr. — the shooter’s father — told Orlando TV station WOFL that Martin “continued to beat George” and he said something to the effect of, “You’re going to die now.”

What the witnesses are saying

Florida law allows the use of deadly force anywhere a person feels a reasonable fear of death or serious injury. It has been cited in a number of justifiable homicide cases in the state.

But as more information surfaces, the picture of what happened between Martin and Zimmerman becomes more complicated.

Despite the twists and turns, Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, has said that she still has faith in authorities investigating her son’s case.

“I feel confident that they’re going to do a thorough investigation,” she said. “We’re trying to be patient, even though it’s been over a month. We’re trying to be patient, and we’re trying to press on for justice.”

Gay man murdered in Chile

Outpouring in Chile over gay man’s death

A girl leaves a flower this week next to messages in support of Daniel Zamudio outside a Santiago, Chile, hospital.
A girl leaves a flower this week next to messages in support of Daniel Zamudio outside a Santiago, Chile, hospital.
(CNN) — The issue of hate crime legislation has gripped Chilean leaders as one family on Friday prepared to bury their 24-year-old son, who was apparently targeted because of his sexual orientation.

Daniel Zamudio, a gay man, was attacked in a Santiago park on March 3 and died from his injuries Tuesday.

The Zamudio house was decorated with flowers and white balloons in observance of the young man’s death, which caused outrage throughout the country.

Hundreds of neighbors and others lined the streets as cars from the Zamudio home made its way to a cemetery for his funeral.

People crowded around cars in the funeral procession at some points, waving flags or photographs of the young man.

Others held up signs in memory of Zamudio or calling for the quick passage of a hate crimes law in the country.

Only close family was allowed inside the cemetery, CNN Chile reported. Meanwhile, others gathered at a stage where musicians played and speakers celebrated Zamudio’s life and called for change.

Zamudio’s attackers reportedly beat him for an hour, burned him with cigarettes and carved Nazi symbols on his body.

Four men thought to belong to a neo-Nazi group have been arrested. They were identified as Raul Lopez Fuentes, 25, Patricio Ahumada Garay, 25, Alejandro Angulo Tapia, 26, and Fabian Mora Mora, 19.

After Zamudio died, authorities raised the charges against the men to aggravated murder.

“As a government, we did this in the name of millions of Chileans who, after the murder of Daniel Zamudio, feel that Chile has to change,” regional Gov. Cecilia Perez said.

On Friday, the United Nations added its call for passage of an anti-discrimination law.

“We deplore the violent criminal act that took the life of this young man and urge the Chilean Congress to pass a law against discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, in full compliance with relevant international human rights standards,” said Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. high commissioner for human rights.

“The case should be seen in the wider context of hate-motivated violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons around the world,” he added.

A U.N. report on the issue released last month found evidence of “startling high levels” of homophobic violence around the world, he said.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera addressed the incident this week.

“We want to reiterate today that we have made a commitment. We are not going to tolerate any kind of discrimination against Chilean citizens based on their socioeconomic status, their religion or sexual orientation,” he said.

The incident has put the issue of hate crimes legislation back on the legislative agenda.

A hate crimes bill was introduced seven years ago but has languished as conservative groups blocked its passage.

“At every turn, this law has been cut. At every turn, there have been efforts to trim it. There was even resistance to having discrimination based on sexual orientation included in the (bill). This is something Chile can no longer permit. And now, after the death of Daniel, which has brought this moment of sensibility, it is time to pass” the bill, said Carolina Toha, president of the liberal Party for Democracy.

Chileans are calling for action, said Rolando Jimenez, president of Movilh, a gay rights organization.

“What we are asking for is to change the conditions of life, improve the quality of life, recognition of the right to dignity and equality for all gay, lesbian and transgendered Chileans,” he said.

The family has thanked the public for the outpouring of support.

“We are surprised and greatly appreciative of all the support we have received from social media, Daniel’s classmates, his friends, people from the north, from the south, from the world,” said Zamudio’s brother, Diego Zamudio.

Apple under inspection for labor practices

Apple supplier audit finds major wage and overtime violations

By Julianne Pepitone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — A heavily anticipated report on working conditions at Apple supplier Foxconn documents dozens of major labor-rights violations, including excessive overtime, unpaid wages and salaries that aren’t enough to cover basic living expenses.

More than 60% of the workers at three of Apple supplier Foxconn’s factories in China say their wages fall short of their basic needs, according to a report released Thursday by auditors from the Fair Labor Association. The FLA is a watchdog group hired by Apple to audit its overseas suppliers.The average monthly salaries at the plants range from 2,257 RMB in Chengdu — around $358 in U.S. dollars — to 2,872 RMB (USD $455) in Guanlan.

A team from the FLA, an independent labor-rights organization, arrived last month at the vast Foxconn plant in Shenzhen, China, known as Foxconn City, to conduct a voluntary audit commissioned by Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500). Thursday’s report, which the FLA said is the first of many, covered three factories in Guanlan, Longhua and Chengdu.

The team surveyed 35,500 employees at those factories about their working and living conditions, including their compensation and working hours. The audit also included inspection of manufacturing areas, dormitories and other facilities.

The FLA’s report says Foxconn has agreed to work with the group to remedy many of the violations it recorded. In one key move, Foxconn says it will achieve “full legal compliance” with Chinese work-hour laws by July 1, 2013. To do that, Foxconn will need to hire “tens of thousands” of extra workers to offset its current employees’ workload, the FLA said.

In a written response to the FLA’s audit, Apple said: “We appreciate the work the FLA has done to assess conditions at Foxconn and we fully support their recommendations. We think empowering workers and helping them understand their rights is essential.”

The company added: “Our team has been working for years to educate workers, improve conditions and make Apple’s supply chain a model for the industry, which is why we asked the FLA to conduct these audits. We share the FLA’s goal of improving lives and raising the bar for manufacturing companies everywhere.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook is traveling in China this week and visited an iPhone production line in Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant. Apple on Wednesdayreleased photos of his visit, but did not provide any further details.

In a statement, Foxconn said the investigation “is part of our long-standing commitment to working together with our customers to ensure that our employees are treated fairly and their rights are fully protected.”

Foxconn also said it is “committed to work with Apple to carry out the remediation program.”

The FLA’s audit comes in the wake of growing public concern about labor conditions in the overseas factories that many U.S. gadget makers rely on to make their devices. Apple is one of many companies that outsources its manufacturing, but as the industry’s most popular and profitable company, it’s under the most intense spotlight.

Foxconn, one of Apple’s largest suppliers, has drawn harsh criticism from labor activists. A spate of suicides at the company’s factories in 2010 garnered media coverage of bleak working conditions, including unsafe facilities and illegal overtime requirements. A story published in January by the New York Times documented the human toll of a Foxconn plant explosion that killed several workers.

Apple has conducted its own supplier audits since 2006, and the companyreleases some of its findings on its website. Its latest report, published in January, detailed nearly two dozen “core violations” of labor and human rights, including the use of underage workers. In more than 100 facilities, excessive work hours were “commonplace,” according to Apple’s report, and most of those plants failed to pay proper overtime wages.

Two facilities were deemed “repeat offenders,” and Apple cut ties with one of them. Still, because Apple is one of America’s most profitable businesses and has a cash stash of almost $100 billion, it’s faced criticism for not doing more to repair what its own audits illustrate are rampant and often dangerous violations in its overseas manufacturing plants.

The FLA’s audit sheds more light on those conditions. The Fair Labor Association is a non-profit organization that formed in 1999 in the wake of a series of sweatshop scandals involving Nike and other apparel makers. Nike (NKE, Fortune 500) became one of the founding members of FLA, which requires its members to meet a labor-standards code of conduct.

The FLA conducts independent audits of its members’ facilities to monitor compliance, but it has also been criticized by labor activists for drawing much of its funding from the same companies for which it acts as a watchdog.

Apple joined FLA in February, becoming the first major technology company to do so. Apple has not commented on how much it contributes to the FLA, but in an interview with Nightline last month, FLA President Auret van Heerden said Apple is paying the group “well into the six figures” to conduct its audit of Foxconn, in addition to the $250,000 that Apple pays the FLA in dues.

In its 13-page audit report, FLA documents 50 issues related to its code of conduct and Chinese labor laws, including infractions in the following areas: health and safety, worker representation, as well as wages and working hours.

Within the last 12 months, all three factories exceeded both Chinese legal limits on working hours and the FLA’s own standard of 60 total hours per week, including both regular shifts and paid overtime.

Foxconn has agreed to bring itself into compliance with those laws within the next 16 months, the FLA said.

The FLA’s report matches Apple’s own audit results, which found that more than half of Foxconn’s employees worked a schedule that broke legal limits. Most of the facilities Apple audited did not pay proper overtime wages as required by law.

The investigation also found that 14% of Foxconn’s workers may not receive the compensation they’re owed for unscheduled overtime, because that time was paid only in 30-minute increments. That is, 29 minutes of overtime work receives no pay and 58 minutes receives only 30 minutes’ worth.

The FLA said Foxconn has agreed to pay workers fairly for all overtime hours, as well as for work-related meetings that take place outside of regular working hours. Also, Foxconn and Apple have agreed to compensate retroactively any worker owed for unpaid overtime. An audit is currently ongoing to determine the payments due.

More than 43% of the workers surveyed said they either experienced or witnessed some kind of work-related accident. Before the FLA audit, Foxconn recorded only accidents that resulted in a production stoppage.

Beginning immediately, Foxconn has agreed to require supervisors and workers to report all accidents that result in an injury.

Several specific safety problems at the work sites — including blocked exits, faulty personal protective equipment and missing permits — were corrected during the course of the investigation, the FLA said.

Foxconn’s union is largely made up of representatives from company management. That “does not provide true worker representation,” FLA dryly noted.

Foxconn has agreed to get in compliance with Chinese law and ensure that elections take place without management interference, according to the FLA.

The FLA is continuing its audits of Apple’s supply chain. When complete, the assessment will cover facilities where more than 90% of Apple products are assembled. To top of page

Carson Daly offends GLAAD mother

Carson Daly Meets With GLAAD; Mark Bingham’s Mother Responds

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Alice Hoagland, mother of 9/11 hero Mark Bingham, says no one on United flight 93 asked her son if he was straight or gay before he helped prevent terrorists from crashing into the nation’s capital, in response to yesterday’s comments made by Carson Daly, who has met with GLAAD and issued a second apology.

On his radio show Wednesday, Daly joked that gay people wouldn’t have been able to restrain the JetBlue pilot who suffered a mid-air meltdown earlier this week.As outrage began to grow, Daly quickly tweeted an apology.

“Yes, my gay son was known in our family for bringing me flowers on my birthday and Mother’s Day,” Hoagland says in an exclusive statement to TMZ. ”He also was known for careening down the rugby pitch, and, on the morning of September 11, 2001, for charging unarmed down the aisle of a doomed Boeing 757 to face knife-wielding Islamist thugs in a hijacked cockpit.”

Hoagland continues, saying, “No one among his pick-up team of fellow passengers was asking ‘Are you straight? Are you gay?’ No one doubted that a guy who weighed 220 and stood 6’4” tall — who could run over a charging opponent on the field, and ran with the bulls in Pamplona earlier that summer — would be an asset to a desperate group trying to overcome a threat onboard an airliner.”

“The world has its share of strong, heroic gay men. Gay men in sports uniforms and military uniforms have been winning America’s games and fighting America’s battles for a long time: quietly, humbly, and in the face of vicious bigotry.”

“I hope you and I may have an opportunity to talk sometime. I prefer to believe you didn’t mean to offend. Good luck to you.”

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation reveals a meeting with Daly and his team who provided the following statement: “We live in a time where gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals find courage every day to overcome adversity, stand up to bullying and find equality. I’m truly saddened that my words today suggested otherwise. I’ve long been a supporter of gay, lesbian, and transgender rights, and I’m saddened that my comments, however unintentional, offended anyone, specifically members of the LGBT community. The fact that I have hurt anyone is devastating. I’m not that guy. I’m proud to be an ally of the LGBT community and will continue to fight with them.”

No fight between Murray and Chavez due to visa problems

Murray withdraws from Chavez Jr. fight in June

Great Britain’s Martin Murray (right) battled middleweight beltholder Felix Sturm to a draw in December. (Uwe Anspach/DPA/ZUMAPRESS.com)

British middleweight Martin Murray has withdrawn from a June 16 fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. due to legal issues preventing him from obtaining a visa to enter the United States. The issues are connected to Murray’s past criminal behavior, which included street fighting and robbery, crimes that resulted in four separate stints in prison.

“I’d signed the contract and everything was agreed, so to be told I cannot box Chavez Jr. because of my past is gut-wrenching,” Murray said. “As a human being, I couldn’t have done any more to turn my life around over the last seven years. I have a fantastic wife, Gemma. We have two wonderful children, Archie and Amelia. They are my life and everything I do is for them.”

Murray, 29, popped on the international radar last December, when he battled WBA middleweight champion Felix Sturm to a draw. Murray’s manager Neil Marsh and promoter Ricky Hatton said in a statement that they would work to resolve the visa issues quickly. In the meantime, they will look to make a fight for Murray (23-0-1) in the U.K., where he could defend his minor domestic titles.

“I am a qualified youth worker and spend lots of time working with kids making an effort to help keep them out of trouble,” Murray said. “I am pleading with the youth of today not to make the same mistakes I did when I was young. Even if you change your life around it can still come back to bite you.”

Meanwhile, Chavez Jr. will look to fill Murray’s slot. Industry sources say unbeaten junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan and middleweight Andy Lee are the leading candidates.

Florida town left divided over teens shooting

Trayvon Martin’s death leaves town divided, struggling with stigma

By Mallory Simon, CNN
Beyond Sanford's historic downtown is a town where nearly everyone has a different viewpoint on the Trayvon Martin case.
Beyond Sanford’s historic downtown is a town where nearly everyone has a different viewpoint on the Trayvon Martin case.
Sanford, Florida (CNN) — Nearly everyone in Sanford agrees on one thing: The death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is a tragedy.

But his death has taken on a whole new meaning here, where media outlets from around the world have descended, to figure out just what happened more than a month ago when neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed Martin.

This once-quiet and quaint town is now the center of a controversy that has put residents in the position of examining just what the racial undertones of the case say about their hometown. And it makes them wonder whether they will forever be known as the a place where an unarmed black kid heading home from the store with Skittles and tea was killed by a Hispanic man claiming self-defense.

For some, the case has become a rallying cry, a chance to air what they believe are years of grievances and cases of injustice between the police, the courts and the black community. For others, it has forced them to defend their town as a place that is not an inherently racist, a place where a young black man cannot be killed without consequence.

Myranette Boynton, 58, has lived in Sanford since 1999. On the grass along the walk that overlooks Lake Monroe, she grew increasingly frustrated as she recounted several events in which she has felt that police had targeted black people, including herself, for no reason.

We have to speak up. We have nothing more to lose.
Cynthia Franklin, Sanford resident

Boynton says she’s not sure she can feel safe in Sanford if there is no arrest in Martin’s case.

“This occasion has happened too many times, and enough is enough,” she said. “Trayvon is not the only one, but Trayvon should be the last one.”

What witnesses say in the Trayvon Martin case

She, like many other African-Americans in this community, references the fact that Sanford Police Chief Lee, who temporarily stepped down in the wake of the Martin controversy, was hired in May to try to change a perceived racial bias.

The hiring was sparked in part by outrage after the white son of a Sanford lieutenant was caught on tape beating a homeless black man in December 2010 but was not arrested until a month later, when news stations began airing the video.

Myranette Boynton, 58, a longtime Sanford resident, thinks the attention to Sanford will make a difference
Myranette Boynton, 58, a longtime Sanford resident, thinks the attention to Sanford will make a difference

For Boynton and others, it is a trend, one the new acting police chief, Darren Scott, partially acknowledged during a news conference.

Scott said he planned to make new avenues for residents to air grievances about the police.

“The police department has faced some challenges in the past few years,” he acknowledged, but he didn’t elaborate.

But for others like Michelle Simoneaux, a 45-year-old who has worked in Sanford for 22 years, those incidents have been few and far between.

“I don’t see Sanford as being a prejudiced town by any means,” she said in downtown’s Colonial Room Restaurant, which she manages. “This could happen anywhere, but it doesn’t happen every day. This is the first time in years that anything like this has happened. It makes me sad it’s being turned into an issue of whether the town as a whole is prejudiced towards black people.”

She says Martin’s death is tragic, and she hopes it is fully investigated to ensure that justice prevails, but she believes the issue of race relations within the community has being blown out of proportion.

A death divides a town

Driving through Sanford, it’s easy to become aware of the distinct neighborhoods.

In the population of about 55,000, nearly a third of them black, the chorus over injustice for Martin has grown louder and louder. But almost anyone will tell you that where you live and work will shape how you feel about what’s happened.

Like in many towns in central Florida, the main roads are dotted with mini strip malls in between what remains of the town’s agricultural history. Some parts still have small farms. Others parts are quickly being developed and reshaped, while some have been boarded-up and entirely vacated.

Off one of the main roads, you can spot pristine subdivisions of condos and apartment homes with gates and manicured front entrances, just like the one where Martin was killed. In a nearby subdivision, two white men in their 60s said they worried that everyone might be jumping to conclusions before all of the evidence has come out.

Dave, one of the men, who did not want to give his full name for fear for his safety, said lots of people are quick to say that Sanford is a place where these types of killings happen regularly and nobody cares.

Maher: Racism, gun laws killed Trayvon

He was referring to the Rev. Al Sharpton’s comments that Sanford could be known “as the Birmingham and Selma of the 21st century,” referencing the police injustices that occurred during civil rights marches led by the Rev. Martin Luther King in Alabama.

Trayvon Martin’s mother: ‘We still cry’

“But that’s not so,” Dave said. “And if that’s what people are saying and trying to shout that we are the Selma, I’d caution them, because you know, we could also be Duke community of this year.”

Martin shooting in defense or accident?

Dave talks candidly about how he saw the Duke lacrosse rape scandal unfold and his concerns that people jumped to conclusions before allowing all of the facts to come out with due process of the law.

He points at the memorial outside the Retreat at Twin Lakes, the gated condo community where Martin was killed, and said that while he understands the outrage, he wanted to urge caution.

The memorial outside the gates is full of teddy bears, Bibles and well wishes but also notes of anger about “Justice for Trayvon” and T-shirts that urge “Arrest Zimmerman.”

He says he worries about vigilante justice directed at Zimmerman. He hopes that if an injustice did occur, it gets dealt with in a court of law, not on the streets of Sanford.

But the viewpoint varies drastically from street to street.

Opinion: Florida’s problematic gated communities

It takes only a few blocks to go from white picket fences and decorative window shutters to chain-link fences and windows with iron bars. In one neighborhood, a minivan in a parking lot for a residential community bears the words “We WILL get justice” and “Arrest Zimmerman.” The message is clear: We want answers and consequences.

In the Goldsboro neighborhood, which is predominantly black, a large group of retirees sits under a live oak tree with lichen moss that shades them from the harsh sun. They sit not far from the now-boarded-up public housing projects. They too, want justice.

At first, none of them wants to talk about Martin, because they don’t think it will matter. Besides, they say, they already encounter enough trouble with police. They worry that if they give their names, police would come looking for them and start trouble.

But as they sit at a wooden picnic table and play cards and dice, they begin slowly to speak up. The group as a whole rattles off names of about 20 boys whose cases they say have been swept under the rug. Martin isn’t the only one, they say. They talk about the frequent police patrols in the area, and then they begin shouting questions as a growing chorus chimes in.

“Why are the only signs for loitering and trespassing in our neighborhoods?” “Do you think this is the first time?” “Ain’t nothing going to change here. This is how it is.”

They’ve said their piece, but they insist that it won’t matter, that nothing, even the spotlight of Martin’s death, will change how they are viewed in this town.

But Herminio Matos, 55, said he has never experienced any kind of problem in Sanford as a minority. And he certainly doesn’t fear for his life.

I believe that whatever happened that day has nothing to do with the stability of this city.
Hermino Matos, Sanford resident

“This is a great, great neighborhood,” he said. “I raise my 9-year-old son here, and I’ve never had issues. I believe whatever happened that day has nothing to do with the stability of this city. This was something, an isolated incident with that little boy and the older man.”

Matos, who has never had any issue with the police, was so proud to live in Sanford that he took out his driver’s license, just renewed that day. He lives on one side of town and crosses to the other every time he works the night shift, and he has never felt scared. He begins his trek from the west side of town to the east about 9:45 p.m. and comes back at 6:30 a.m., all in the dark.

“I feel safe, I feel comfortable, and I am not afraid of anything,” he said. “What happened that day can happen in any city. Tomorrow, it can be two black people somewhere else or two Hispanic people the next day, or any combination. Sometimes things happen.”

Fight for Trayvon and for Sanford’s reputation

Martin’s death has sparked a wave of protests across the country for those who say he represents all the unjust killings of black youths.

Cynthia Franklin, who was born in Sanford, said she believes that while this is only one incident, Martin’s death is a symbol of an issue the black community has struggled with for a long time. And she doesn’t believe the issue will go away until black people in the community feel that justice has been served.

“Now is time for this Trayvon case to be dealt with,” she said. “There are so many cases like this, and even if it puts Sanford in a bad light, if we have to start here, if it has to be us talking about racial profiling, why not at this point? We have to speak up. We have nothing more to lose.”

It’s for that exact reason that Boynton will continue to plead for justice.

Prosecutor urges prayers, not protests

“Everyone is tired. They are full. They’ve sat back, and they’ve been quiet. But enough is enough,” she said as she peered out over Lake Monroe. “At least through the marches, I can have my voice heard. It is empowering. To think that my mom and my grandmother went so much so I can walk free, now I have to do that for my kids and my grandchildren to walk free.”

Trayvon Martin ‘is our call to action’

Simoneaux, the restaurant manager, said she knows that if it were her daughter, she would want to seek justice for such a tragic death, but she wishes things hadn’t gotten to the point they are at now. She believes the police should be more transparent to prove that they have nothing to hide.

But most of all, she hopes people will see her town the way she does.

At a table in her restaurant, its walls lined with antique cooking equipment echoing its inception in 1977, she expected that it would take years for the town to overcome the stigma that is now being attached to it. She had just one hope, one request, for those who read about this case and the town.

“I just hope people don’t stop coming here and that they will give us a chance to show us what this town is,” she said. “I hope they come and see that it’s not a big city that’s blacks against whites, and people can kill black people and get away with it. That’s not who we are. We’re a great group of people in a good town. I think this tragic incident has just gotten blown out of proportion.”

Energy giant Total springs a gas leak off North Sea

Gas Leak caused by off shore drilling giant

By the CNN Wire Staff

Click to play
Strong winds due at oil platform

London (CNN) — Energy giant Total has located the source of a gas leak on an offshore oil platform in the North Sea, the company told CNN on Thursday. The leak is not underwater, but is on the deck level of the well head platform, Total said.

The Elgin platform sprang a leak on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of the rig.

Experts are now working to decide whether they can wait for the gas to stop leaking on its own, or whether the company must drill a relief well or fill it with mud in a “kill operation,” Total said.

Nearly 240 workers were taken off the rig as the problem developed Sunday, Total said earlier in the week.

The leak seems to have started as workers were sealing the well in the North Sea, about 150 miles (240 km) east of the Scottish city of Aberdeen.

“Ironically, it sounds as if, just like with the Deepwater Horizon, they were closing off a well and somewhere along the line something went wrong,” oceanographer Simon Boxall said, referring to the major BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

 The Elgin leak has echoes of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, but there are significant differences. The Elgin is in significantly shallower water, which could make problems easier to fix, but it is leaking gas, rather than oil. Gas catches fire much more easily.

“This is nothing on the scale of the Gulf spill two years ago,” Boxall said. “This is a relatively light spill. The gas itself is dispersing quite rapidly.”

“The hope is that there is so little gas pressure in there that it will just blow itself out,” he said of the Elgin spill.

Total’s share price was down about 2% in trading in France on Thursday afternoon.

The French company’s share price fell 7% Tuesday on news of the leak, but market analyst firm Jeffries International said Wednesday that it thought the market had overreacted.

A union representing workers on the rig warned Wednesday that there was an “urgent need” to stop the leak.

“If the gas cloud somehow finds an ignition source, we could be looking at complete destruction,” said Jake Molloy, an official with the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers.

“This is an unprecedented situation and we really are in the realms of the unknown,” Molloy said.

But oceanographer Boxall said the risk of explosion may not be as high as initially feared.

“Initially the risk of explosion was seen as being very high. There were reports coming through of a large gas cloud enveloping the whole rig,” he told CNN.

But the fact that there has been no blast when the flare on the gas rig is still burning “obviously contradicts the idea that there was a very high risk of explosion,” he said.

“Perhaps the quantity of gas is not that great as first thought,” he said.

For the moment, the wind seems to be blowing the gas cloud away from the flare on the Elgin rig.

Total confirmed there was a “sheen on the water in the vicinity of the platform,” but said Tuesday there was no indication of environmental damage. There have been no injuries, the company said.

Shell partially evacuated two of its nearby platforms, Shearwater and Hans Deul, as a “purely precautionary” measure, it said Wednesday.

The North Sea was the scene of the world’s worst offshore rig disaster, the Piper Alpha explosion, which killed 167 people in 1988.

Suspect in San Francisco killing arrested

Man charged with murder after 5 found dead in San Francisco

By the CNN Wire Staff
Binh Thai Luc, 35, was arrested in San Francisco on Sunday and charged with five counts of murder.
Binh Thai Luc, 35, was arrested in San Francisco on Sunday and charged with five counts of murder.

(CNN) — A San Francisco man was arrested and charged with murder Sunday, two days after five people were found dead in a residence in that northern California city, police said.

The victims were found around 7:45 a.m. Friday in a building near the City College of San Francisco in the city’s Ingleside district, said Commander Michael Biel, head of the San Francisco Police Department’s investigations division.

There were “four separate homicide scenes within the residence” — suggesting people had been killed in four different locales — Police Chief Greg Suhr said.

Suhr said the five died “apparently from blunt trauma, (though) we really didn’t know what happened.” He added later that there also was an “edge-weapon involved,” capable of cutting someone, but there was no evidence of gunshots.

The names and ages of those killed have not been released, though Suhr did say “we believe that the victims may be related.”

The man accused of killing them, Binh Thai Luc, is a 35-year-old San Francisco resident with a criminal record. He was arrested and booked on five counts of murder early Sunday, according to Suhr, who added Luc “did not surrender” and “was not arrested at home.”

His brother, 32-year-old Brian Luc, was also arrested and charged with narcotics possession, a felon in possession of ammunition and for a probation violation, according to police. The two live together in the city.

The police chief said there was “a relationship” between the suspect and the victims, though he did not specify what that was.

Bluegrass legend passes at 88

Earl Scruggs dead at 88

By the CNN Wire Staff
Earl Scruggs' unique three-finger-roll style revolutionized the banjo and its role in bluegrass and country music.
Earl Scruggs’ unique three-finger-roll style revolutionized the banjo and its role in bluegrass and country music.

(CNN) — Earl Scruggs, whose distinctive picking style and association with Lester Flatt cemented bluegrass music’s place in popular culture, died Wednesday of natural causes at a Nashville hospital, his son Gary Scruggs said. He was 88.

“I realize his popularity throughout the world went way beyond just bluegrass and country music,” Gary Scruggs told CNN. “It was more than that.”

For many of a certain age, Scruggs’ banjo was part of the soundtrack of an era on “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” — the theme song from the CBS sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies,” which aired on CBS from 1962 to 1971 and for decades afterward in syndication.

But much more than that, he popularized a three-finger picking style that brought the banjo to the fore in a supercharged genre, and he was an indispensable member of the small cadre of musical greats who created modern bluegrass music.

Scruggs was born in 1924 to a musically gifted family in rural Cleveland County, North Carolina, according to his official biography. His father, a farmer and a bookkeeper, played the fiddle and banjo, his mother was an organist and his older siblings played guitar and banjo, as well.

Young Earl’s exceptional gifts were apparent early on. He started playing the banjo at age 4 and he started developing his three-finger style at the age of 10.

“The banjo was, for all practical purposes, ‘reborn’ as a musical instrument,” the biography on his official website declares, “due to the talent and prominence Earl Scruggs gave to the instrument.”

While Scruggs’ status as the Prometheus of the banjo may be overstated, many musicians feel he changed the game. Fiddler John Hartman, quoted in Barry R. Willis’ “America’s Music: Bluegrass,” summed it up this way: “Everybody’s all worried about who invented the style and it’s obvious that three-finger banjo pickers have been around a long time — maybe since 1840. But my feeling about it is that if it wasn’t for Earl Scruggs, you wouldn’t be worried about who invented it.”

In an article on the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s website, bluegrass historian Neil V. Rosenberg described Scruggs’ style as “a ‘roll’ executed with the thumb and two fingers of his right hand” that essentially made the banjo “a lead instrument like a fiddle or a guitar, particularly on faster pieces and instrumentals. This novel sound attracted considerable attention to their Grand Ole Opry performances, road shows, and Columbia recordings.”

In 1945, Scruggs met Flatt when he joined Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, for whom Flatt was the guitarist and lead vocalist. Along with the group’s mandolin-playing namesake were fiddler Chubby Wise and bassist Howard Watts (alias: Cedric Rainwater).

Scruggs and Flatt left Monroe in 1948 to form the Foggy Mountain Boys, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame website. Along with guitarist/vocalists Jim Eanes and Mac Wiseman, fiddler Jim Shumate and Blue Grass Boys alum Rainwater, the group played on WCYB in Bristol, Tennessee, and recorded for the Mercury label.

He married Anne Louise Certain that year. In the ’50s she became Flatt & Scruggs’ business manager. They were married for more than 57 years until her death in 2006.

The Foggy Mountain Boys’ roster changed over the years, but Flatt and Scruggs became the constants, the signature sound of the group on radio programs, notably those sponsored by Martha White Flour, and as regulars at the Grand Ole Opry. They became syndicated TV stars in in the Southeast in the late 1950s and early ’60s, and they hit the country charts with the gospel tune “Cabin on the Hill.”

But it was during an appearance at a Hollywood folk club that brought them into contact with the producer of “The Beverly Hillbillies” and led to “The Ballad of Jed Clampett.” It was their only single to climb to No.1 on the country charts.

The 1967 film “Bonnie and Clyde” featured their 1949 instrumental “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” with its distinctive Scruggs-style banjo solo perhaps the most ubiquitous of bluegrass sounds.

The duo split in 1969, and Scruggs’ fame as a solo and featured act continued to grow, even as his most iconic licks echoed through the years among his acolytes — basically, anyone who played banjo, and many who picked other instruments.

Playing “Foggy Mountain” on banjo became a staple of Steve Martin’s comedy routine, and blossomed into a reverential tribute. In November 2001, Martin and Scruggs were joined by Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Jerry Douglas and others on “Late Show With David Letterman” to play a fiery version of the song — soloing alternately on banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, steel guitar and harmonica. Even Paul Schafer took the chorus for a spin on piano.

In an article in the New Yorker in January, Martin wrote, “A grand part of American music owes a debt to Earl Scruggs. Few players have changed the way we hear an instrument the way Earl has, putting him in a category with Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Chet Atkins, and Jimi Hendrix.”

Flatt & Scruggs were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985, six years after Lester Flatt’s death. In 1991, Scruggs, Flatt and Monroe were the first inductees in the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.

His sons Gary and Randy both are accomplished musicians and songwriters, and played with their dad in a 1973 album, “The Earl Scruggs Revue.”

Open mic calls for embarrassing moment for Obama

Open mic catches Obama asking Russian president for space on missile defense

Posted by

White house correspondant

Seoul, South Korea  – In a private conversation about the planned U.S.-led NATO missile defense system in Europe, President Barack Obama asked outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for space on the issue.

“This is my last election,” Obama told Medvedev. “After my election I have more flexibility.”

“I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” Medvedev said, referring to incoming President Vladimir Putin.

The two leaders talked Monday during a formal one-on-one meeting ahead of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea. In video they are seen seated, almost huddled, facing each other, each man with his elbows on his knees, leaning in closely over a small table, as they speak intently. Part of the exchange was caught on camera at the end of the 90-minute meeting as reporters and cameras entered the room for a quick photo opportunity of Obama and Medvedev.

It’s a prickly issue between the two countries. NATO and U.S. leaders insist the project is designed to protect against a potential Iranian strike and would not be used against Russia. But Russia bristles at having a missile defense system so close to its border, arguing it violates Russian sovereignty.

“The United States is committed to implementing our missile defense system, which we’ve repeatedly said is not aimed at Russia,” said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, in a statement. “However, given the longstanding difference between the U.S. and Russia on this issue, it will take time and technical work before we can try to reach an agreement.”

Rhodes acknowledged the difficulty of finding a solution when politics are at play. “Since 2012 is an election year in both countries, with an election and leadership transition in Russia and an election in the United States, it is clearly not a year in which we are going to achieve a breakthrough. Therefore, President Obama and President Medvedev agreed that it was best to instruct our technical experts to do the work of better understanding our respective positions, providing space for continued discussions on missile defense cooperation going forward.