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from The Great Debate:

Obama takes on the presumption of thuggery that permeates Martin case

Everyone looks to their president for protection against calamity, and black voters are no different. One little discussed fact of the Obama presidency is how it has been a singularly disastrous economic period for the first black president’s most loyal constituency: black people.

This has led to a running joke in families like mine where, nonetheless, black people cannot utter a word of criticism about him. They love him unconditionally.

On a recent visit to my older relatives in Detroit, I again asked whether there was anything more they thought President Barack Obama could do for blacks. These are wise retired folks in their 70s and 80s, fixed-income veterans of America’s race relations and unions. With their beloved city then teetering on bankruptcy, declared just days ago, none offered anything but new ways to praise him.

The only slightly critical comment was this tempered whisper: “Sometimes I wish he felt he could love his color without fear.”

from The Great Debate:

The two trials of Zimmerman: ‘The Wire’ v. ‘CSI’

Now the jury has spoken on the question that riveted the public and filled cable news to the gills: Whether George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, murdered a black teenager Trayvon Martin because he happened to be a black kid in the wrong place at the wrong time and in the wrong outfit.

It is hardly a mystery why this tragedy exploded into the trial of the year. It was not just about Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence. It was about the state of race relations in America --  about our racial guilt or innocence.

from Nicholas Wapshott:

Zimmerman: A trial that was all about race

Will George Zimmerman’s trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin and the all-too predictable acquittal change anything?

Will it prevent racial profiling in the future? No. Will it keep guns out of the hands of reckless and feckless flakes? No. Will it ensure that from now on gun licenses are administered more closely? No. Above all, will it prevent such needless killings from happening again? Certainly not.

from Photographers' Blog:

Closing the chapter on the space shuttle

Cape Canaveral, Florida

By Joe Skipper

The decades-long assignment started with covering the first space shuttle launch, Columbia, on April 12, 1981. A recent visit to Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A wrapped up the story for me. Often we cover assignments not knowing how long it will take, and my part in coverage of NASA’s space shuttle program seemed as if it would last forever. With the landing of the shuttle Atlantis on July 21, 2011, however, we thought the assignment was over.

But it wasn't complete yet. With the shuttles headed for public display, the assignment continued a bit longer in order to cover the preparation and their ultimate departure from the space center.

from Photographers' Blog:

Ashes to ashes; dust to dust

Gainesville, Florida

By Steve Johnson

“Ashes to ashes; dust to dust.”

Its origins come from Genesis 3:19 (King James Verison): “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

We celebrate death in so many different ways. From sky burials in Tibet, to hanging coffins in ancient China, how we honor the dead is varied and changing.

from Full Focus:

Training child survivalists

Photographer Brian Blanco gained rare access to a group of survivalists in Florida led by Jim Foster, 57, a retired police officer. The North Florida Survival Group trains children and adults alike to handle weapons and survive in the wild. The group passionately supports the right of U.S. citizens to bear arms and its website states that it aims to teach "patriots to survive in order to protect and defend our Constitution against all enemy threats". Since the shooting at Sandy Hook, the group are getting increased interest from people looking to sign up. Foster says he now gets about one person signing up per day. Read Brian's personal account here.

from The Great Debate:

Romney’s big chance with Jewish voters

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at the Monday foreign policy debate, should play to the Jewish TV audience like he was the star of a Borscht Belt revue.

Romney has a tempting assortment of issues he can tap to frame President Barack Obama as a leader whose policies are perilous for Israel. He can use the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran, Egypt and even Syria to make a case that Obama’s policies are wrong for the Jewish state.

from Tales from the Trail:

Obama heads to Florida for re-election fundraising effort

President Barack Obama on Thursday will travel to Florida for a fundraiser at a hotel in Miami with hundreds of guests that could raise at least $1 million for the Democratic incumbent and Democrats’ re-election coffers, according to a major donor.

"People are enthusiastic about how the race is going -- the danger of a Romney administration is less likely -- but this election is far from over," said Kris Korge, a Florida businessman helping to organize the event.

from Tales from the Trail:

Not expecting a call from the president? Try the second line

A warning to those who are sometimes slow to pick up the phone: you may miss a call from the president.

President Barack Obama stopped by a local campaign office in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on Sunday to visit with supporters, and he placed a call to Barney Roberts, a volunteer in Jacksonville.

from Tales from the Trail:

Obama gets a surprising ‘lift’ in Florida pizza joint

President Obama is hugged by Scott Van Duzer at a pizza shop in Florida

President Barack Obama met his match in the fitness category at an impromptu campaign visit on Sunday.

Stopping by a pizza place -- the Big Apple Pizza & Pasta Italian Restaurant -- in Ft. Pierce, Florida, the president, a workout fanatic, was welcomed by the 6-foot-3, 260-pound, big-muscled owner, Scott Van Duzer.

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