It’s a concept so indelibly stamped into the American Justice System, that its absence from jurisprudence would be as startling as if the Sun was plucked from the sky: A criminal defendant is innocent until proven guilty. The explosive but not unexpected reaction to the verdict of the six-women jury in Florida acquitting George Zimmerman in the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has given rise to but another debate on burden of proof.
The racial mix, as it often does, proved as precarious as nitroglycerin. Florida’s “stand your ground” laws provided the basis for Zimmerman’s defense in the case. Zimmerman, despite a warning from the police to stand down, followed Martin within the complex he was patrolling, which led to a fight between the two. During the scuffle Zimmerman shot Martin in what he says was self-defense.
A quarter of a century has now passed since I first set foot on the lush, rolling farmlands of a quaint little town called Gettysburg. My journey to this picaresque destination was not a bucolic rendezvous with nature but a pilgrimage into the vortex of history where a new nation was forged in blood and musket fire. Amid these fairest shades of earth a battle of monumental proportions was fought, an encounter that would decide the fate of a young Republic defined by the loftiest expressions of freedom, yet burdened by the existence of slavery.
I’m proud to represent an area of Long Island that has been the location for many famous movies and TV shows, including Citizen Kane, Annie Hall, and the hit television series Boardwalk Empire. It’s even the setting for The Great Gatsby. Shamefully, it’s also now the location for a show whose characters are disgraceful, misleading, and fuel anti-Semitic stereotypes: Princesses: Long Island.
Full disclosure: I kind of enjoy reality TV. Storage Wars and Pawn Stars are among my guilty pleasures. So the idea of watching a reality show taking place in my own backyard wasn’t so far-fetched. I knew little about the show before sitting down to watch the season premiere.
It is time to admit the painfully obvious: Things are a mess in the Middle East and half measures by the United States have only exacerbated the situation. What started as a local conflict in Syria has now become a multi-national bloodbath. We can no longer say that what’s happening there is a civil war. It is impossible to argue that the struggle there is now trans-national.
We now have Iran and Hezbollah fighting with Bashar al-Assad. These are not populations indigenous to Syria. Add to that fiery mix Russia, China and a host of other belligerents and you have a 21st-century version of the Spanish American War, which claimed nearly a million lives in the 1930s and was a precursor to the global conflagration we know as World War II. Everyone, until most recently, seems to be involved in the struggle over Syria except the United States who has a great deal to lose if either Assad or another one of the radical elements prevails.
like a sudden stillness.
Wistful. A whisper
Things were crackling on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News program as she took to task pundits Erick Erickson, Lou Dobbs and Juan Williams about the meaning of a Pew Research Center study that revealed that in two out of five American homes, it’s mom who brings home the bacon. Megyn Kelly, a mother of two with one on the way, was sizzling over her all-male panel’s dismay about these findings and its unhappy forebodings about the future of American society.
When a medical emergency strikes, you take it for granted that your call for help will be answered. And it will be… but only because there are volunteers who willingly contribute time and energy to keeping your community safe.
These men and women come from every walk of life; they work and live all around you. They share an unselfish, often underappreciated commitment to being there, ready to serve whenever a crisis occurs. That is truly being a good neighbor.
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