Florida

Orlando Sentinel Disappears Column on George Zimmerman

The Orlando Sentinel has dropped into the memory hole a commentary published Friday evening that called for the community to stand its ground against George Zimmerman. The piece, written by sports columnist George Diaz and titled "Time for Zimmerman to pull a Casey Anthony and vanish," was published at 5:43 p.m. and archived by Google two minutes later. As of 10 a.m. Saturday morning the commentary was gone with no explanation. Zimmerman, who killed unarmed teen Trayvon Martin in Sanford, ... (read more)

Zimmerman's Own Words Justify Martin's Punch

Since the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the conventional wisdom among people who agree with the verdict is that Trayvon Martin punched him first, so the teen was responsible for the fight that led to his tragic death. The claim about the punch is entirely coming from Zimmerman and could be a lie -- no one else saw it -- but let's assume for the sake of argument that it's true. There's still a justification for Martin punching him in self defense, based entirely on Zimmerman's own words in the ... (read more)

Stand Your Ground Let Zimmerman Go Free

There's a lot of talk about how Florida's Stand Your Ground law did not play a role in George Zimmerman's acquittal. His attorneys did not call for a hearing, as entitled under that law, but instead presented self defense as justification for his actions at trial. But Stand Your Ground rewrote the instructions read to juries on self defense. Dan Gelber, the Democratic candidate for Florida attorney general in 2010, has offered a succinct explanation for why Zimmerman was able to use self ... (read more)

Another Girl Abducted and Killed in Jacksonville

I was jolted awake this morning shortly before 5 a.m. by the squawk of the emergency broadcast system on the television. An Amber alert relayed the news that an eight-year-old Jacksonville girl, Charish Perriwinkle, had disappeared from a Walmart on the city's north side at 11 p.m. Friday night. Police feared she was in the company of a registered sex offender, Donald James Smith. For hours, the local station provided updates as I half-slept. Around 9:30 a.m., police said the sex offender ... (read more)

Attending the Florida Heritage Book Festival

At the Florida Heritage Book Festival in St. Augustine this past weekend I saw speeches by novelists Jeff Lindsay (Darkly Dreaming Dexter), Steve Berry (The Templar Legacy) and Diana Abu-Jaber (Arabian Jazz). I have an unpublished thriller in its second draft that's around 60,000 words long, so I go to these festivals looking for tips on how to become a more gooder writer and also to establish a daily writing routine to finish it. I've proven conclusively in the past year the novel won't finish ... (read more)

Republicans Run Attack Ads on Charlie Crist

The Florida Republican Party recently began running a TV ad here that attacks former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Republican who left the party and became an independent during his unsuccessful 2010 Senate run. The ad shows old clips of Crist praising President George W. Bush and Sarah Palin and declaring he was "about as conservative as you can get." That statement turned out to be as true as Mitt Romney calling himself a progressive when he wanted to be governor of liberal Massachusetts. Crist ... (read more)

George Zimmerman Contradicts Himself on Stand

During the bond hearing today in his second-degree murder trial for the Feb. 26 death of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman said something in his testimony that is clearly contradicted by his original call to police on the night of the shooting. After his attorney Mark O'Mara told the court that Zimmerman wanted to make a statement, Zimmerman took the stand and made brief comments directed at Martin's parents, Tracy Martin and Sabryna Fulton, who were present in the courtroom. He said: I wanted ... (read more)

My First Trip into a Debate Spin Room

I was granted media credentials by CNN to report on the GOP presidential debate last night in Jacksonville for the Drudge Retort, the first time I've had the opportunity to cover a debate. The University of North Florida squeezed around 400 journalists into a campus ballroom, putting online media together in one corner. I was sandwiched between the Huffington Post and The Guardian. A misprint on a sign led the British journalist Toby Harnden to think that Matt Drudge had come up from Miami ... (read more)

New York Post Smears Occupy Wall Street Mom

The New York Post is running a story today about Stacy Hessler, a 38-year-old Florida mom who's gone from her family while she takes part in the Occupy Wall Street protests at Zucotti Park. Hessler is raising four children at home with her husband in DeLand, Fl., but she came to New York City to join the protests on Oct. 9 and has no plans to leave: I have no idea what the future holds, but I'm here indefinitely. Forever. ... Military people leave their families all the time, so why should ... (read more)

Right Whale Dies Off St. Augustine

On Dec. 30, 2010, a team of federal and state biologists rescued a severely entangled North Atlantic right whale off the coast of Daytona, Florida. The whale, born during the 2008-09 calving season, was one of 300-400 left in existence from a population that once numbered in the tens of thousands. (Click the picture to see a high-resolution JPEG photo.) The female whale had become caught in more than 150 feet of fishing rope and wire mesh, some stuck in its mouth. This was causing it feeding ... (read more)