Tear Jerky Military Fables

 November 11 has passed once again, and some people may be calm enough to accept a critical analysis of some of the tear jerky military fables we are fed that time of the year.  I will post the two lengthy messages that I consider tied for this year's Lacrimal Gland Award (my fictitious honorific).  My analysis will follow the messages.

 Letter from an airline pilot:

 He writes: My lead flight attendant came to me and said, "We have an H.R. On this flight." (H.R. Stands for human remains.) "Are they military?" I asked.  'Yes', she said.  'Is there an escort?' I asked.  'Yes, I've already assigned him a seat'.  'Would you please tell him to come to the flight deck. You can board him early," I said..

A short while later, a young army sergeant entered the flight deck. He was the image of the perfectly dressed soldier. He introduced himself and I asked him about his soldier. The escorts of these fallen soldiers talk about them as if they are still alive and still with us.

'My soldier is on his way back to Virginia ,' he said. He proceeded to answer my questions, but offered no words.

I asked him if there was anything I could do for him and he said no. I told him that he had the toughest job in the military and that I appreciated the work that he does for the families of our fallen soldiers. The first officer and I got up out of our seats to shake his hand. He left the flight deck to find his seat.

We completed our pre-flight checks, pushed back and performed an uneventful departure. About 30 minutes into our flight I received a call from the lead flight attendant in the cabin. 'I just found out the family of the soldier we are carrying, is on board', she said. She then proceeded to tell me that the father, mother, wife and 2-year old daughter were escorting their son, husband, and father home. The family was upset because they were unable to see the container that the soldier was in before we left. We were on our way to a major hub at which the family was going to wait four hours for the connecting flight home to Virginia .

The father of the soldier told the flight attendant that knowing his son was below him in the cargo compartment and being unable to see him was too much for him and the family to bear. He had asked the flight attendant if there was anything that could be done to allow them to see him upon our arrival. The family wanted to be outside by the cargo door to watch the soldier being taken off the airplane. I could hear the desperation in the flight attendants voice when she asked me if there was anything I could do. 'I'm on it', I said. I told her that I would get back to her.

Airborne communication with my company normally occurs in the form of e-mail like messages. I decided to bypass this system and contact my flight dispatcher directly on a secondary radio. There is a radio operator in the operations control center who connects you to the telephone of the dispatcher. I was in direct contact with the dispatcher. I explained the situation I had on board with the family and what it was the family wanted. He said he understood and that he would get back to me.

Two hours went by and I had not heard from the dispatcher. We were going to get busy soon and I needed to know what to tell the family. I sent a text message asking for an update. I saved the return message from the dispatcher and the following is the text:

'Captain, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. There is policy on this now and I had to check on a few things. Upon your arrival a dedicated escort team will meet the aircraft. The team will escort the family to the ramp and plane side. A van will be used to load the remains with a secondary van for the family. The family will be taken to their departure area and escorted into the terminal where the remains can be seen on the ramp. It is a private area for the family only. When the connecting aircraft arrives, the family will be escorted onto the ramp and plane side to watch the remains being loaded for the final leg home. Captain, most of us here in flight control are veterans.. Please pass our condolences on to the family. Thanks.'

I sent a message back telling flight control thanks for a good job. I printed out the message and gave it to the lead flight attendant to pass on to the father. The lead flight attendant was very thankful and told me, 'You have no idea how much this will mean to them.'

Things started getting busy for the descent, approach and landing. After landing, we cleared the runway and taxied to the ramp area. The ramp is huge with 15 gates on either side of the alleyway. It is always a busy area with aircraft maneuvering every which way to enter and exit. When we entered the ramp and checked in with the ramp controller, we were told that all traffic was being held for us.

'There is a team in place to meet the aircraft', we were told. It looked like it was all coming together, then I realized that once we turned the seat belt sign off, everyone would stand up at once and delay the family from getting off the airplane. As we approached our gate, I asked the co-pilot to tell the ramp controller we were going to stop short of the gate to make an announcement to the passengers. He did that and the ramp controller said, 'Take your time.'

I stopped the aircraft and set the parking brake. I pushed the public address button and said, 'Ladies and gentleman, this is your Captain speaking I have stopped short of our gate to make a special announcement. We have a passenger on board who deserves our honor and respect. His Name is Private XXXXXX, a soldier who recently lost his life. Private XXXXXX is under your feet in the cargo hold. Escorting him today is Army Sergeant XXXXXXX. Also, on board are his father, mother, wife, and daughter. Your entire flight crew is asking for all passengers to remain in their seats to allow the family to exit the aircraft first. Thank you.'

We continued the turn to the gate, came to a stop and started our shutdown procedures. A couple of minutes later I opened the cockpit door. I found the two forward flight attendants crying, something you just do not see. I was told that after we came to a stop, every passenger on the aircraft stayed in their seats, waiting for the family to exit the aircraft.

When the family got up and gathered their things, a passenger slowly started to clap his hands. Moments later more passengers joined in and soon the entire aircraft was clapping. Words of 'God Bless You', I'm sorry, thank you, be proud, and other kind words were uttered to the family as they made their way down the aisle and out of the airplane.

They were escorted down to the ramp to finally be with their loved one.

Many of the passengers disembarking thanked me for the announcement I had made. They were just words, I told them, I could say them over and over again, but nothing I say will bring back that brave soldier.

I respectfully ask that all of you reflect on this event and the sacrifices that millions of our men and women have made to ensure our freedom and safety in these USA, Canada, Australia New Zealand, England.
Foot note:
I know everyone who has served their country who reads this will have tears in their eyes, including me.

Prayer chain for our Military...
Please send this on after a short prayer for our service men and women.

They die for me and mine and you and yours and deserve our honor and respect.

Still there?  Here's the second one, the sack lunch tale.  Place brain in neutral, right hand on mouse, left hand on tissue dispenser.
Sack Lunches :

I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. 'I'm glad I have a good book to read. Perhaps I will get a short nap,' I thought.

Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation.

'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to me. 'Petawawa. We'll be there for two
weeks for special training, and then we're being
deployed to Afghanistan

After flying for about an hour, an announcement was
made that sack lunches were available for five dollars. It would be several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time...

As I reached for my wallet, I overheard a soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. 'No, that seems
like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks. I'll wait till we get to base.'

His friend agreed.

I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty dollar bill. 'Take a
lunch to all those soldiers.' She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me. 'My son was a soldier in Iraq ; it's almost like you are doing it for him.'

Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated. She stopped at my seat and asked, 'Which do you like best - beef or
chicken?' 'Chicken,' I replied, wondering why she asked. She turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class.

'This is your thanks.'

After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room.
A man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I want to
be part of it. Here, take this.' He handed me
twenty-five dollars.

Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane. When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand and said, 'I
want to shake your hand.' Quickly unfastening my
seatbelt I stood and took the Captain's hand.
With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier
and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought
me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never
forgot.' I was embarrassed when applause was
heard from all of the passengers.

Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five dollars in my palm.

When we landed I gathered my belongings and started to deplane. Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word. Another twenty-five dollars!

Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base. I walked over to
them and handed them seventy-five dollars. 'It
will take you some time to reach the base. It will be about time for a sandwich.
God Bless You.'  Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers.

As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for our country. I could only give them a couple of
meals. It seemed so little...

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'citizens of Canada ' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'

That is Honour, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.'
OK.  Still there?  Box of tissues running on empty?  By the way, this is the $129 Mucus Recovery System that you might find listed on a hospital bill in the USA. 

First, a few general thoughts on critical thinking, or in this case the lack thereof, that allows people to pass on these messages as if they are real documented events.  Lack of critical thinking is an essential ingredient for gullibility to operate; otherwise people would immediately spot the obvious flaws in the stories.  Remember my definition of gullibility is the thing that fills the void at the nexus of strong emotion and ignorance.  The more emotion in the story, the more I tend to believe the emotion is there to overwhelm the critical thought process of the reader.

 It has also become apparent to me that many so-called educated people in North America are functionally innumerate; they are clueless as to what are reasonable timeframes and distances given in internet fables.

Let's start with the Caskets on a Plane fable -- sounds like a good movie title.  This tale comes from a blog purportedly written by an American commercial airline pilot.  It sounds like an expanded version of the famous Howard Johnson  one (deceased soldier returning home on a commercial flight).

 First, here's a bit about military protocol for the transport of deceased servicemen, facts everyone should know just from listening to the news, but which most people miss because they are too busy emoting.  Returning deceased American military always go to Dover Air Force Base, in Delaware for autopsy.    Are you aware of any exceptions?  (Similarly Canadian casualties go to Trenton AFB, then by ground to Toronto for autopsy.)  The protocol for notification of next of kin allows for family to meet the incoming deceased at Dover if they so choose.  So I don't buy the "can't see my deceased soldier's casket" line.  The family can view the incoming container from overseas as well as the final coffin transport from Dover.  This part of the fable stinks to high heaven.

I have trouble with the idea that the pilot would be told by a flight attendant that there was a body on board.  Surely that would be listed in the cargo manifest and the pilot would know about it.  Flight attendants do not get random bits of info on cargo to pass on to the pilots.

I also have trouble with the part about the pilot being told first about an accompanying soldier, and later about a newly found accompanying family.  They didn't know about each other?  Doesn't pass the smell test. 

Let's examine some timeline details given in the story.  Often the timeline will tell you what is possible, what is impossible, and what is probable.

It is only about 150 air miles from Dover AFB to Richmond, Virginia.  I have no idea whether they would use air transport for this distance, but I would use ground transport.  The plane was in the air for 2-1/2 hours before beginning descent, so they likely would have covered at least 1000 air miles -- overflying Richmond (a possible destination) by at least 850 miles.  Flight time from Miami to Richmond is only 2 hours as another comparison, but this plane is in the air around three hours, so it must have originated in the plains States somewhere, something like Dallas, TX, which is ludicrous.

But this is not the end of the stupidity.  Supposedly they are just on the first leg of their flight; they have a 4 hour lay-over at a major hub terminal before their final leg home to Virginia.  A lay-over from Delaware to Virginia?  Where is this mythical major hub?  Please explain that one to me.  Unless you can explain some exception to release of remains from Dover, this entire tale stinks to high heaven.

The only thing missing from this tear jerker is the fallen soldier's dog, presumably named Rex or Skip or similar.  The writer probably forgot to include that Rex was in a pet shipping container, stationed at his whining insistance alongside his master's casket.  Can't believe they left that part out.

On a personal note I do not agree with the theme.  I think the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have nothing to do with protection of our rights, freedoms, liberties, or so that we can "live in peace" as noted in the story lead-in line.  That is utter rubbish!  Those wars have made us less secure, not more, and indebted us in the process.  And our grandchildren will have to live with the blowback from our wars over the past decade.
OK.  Still here?  Probably had to get another box of tissues from storage, right?  Ready for the sack lunch flight fiasco?  Here we go . . .

I included this one because it is a funny bastardized version of an American tale, changed by someone with (extremely) limited intellect to supposedly fit the Candian context, and widely distributed in Canada.  It is goofy because almost nothing fits the Canadian context, and it is still goofy in the American context.

On a personal note, I used to live on a Canadian family farm that ended 1/2 mile north of the American border (see my blog photo).  Our nearest neighbours were Americans and we sometimes visited simply by driving "across the line" without the niceties of assistance from kindly customs officials.  The last time I did that was because I got a pick-up hung up near the border with both front wheels in badger holes, and walked a short distance to get planks from the American neighbours. 

Because of the close proximity to Americans I am quite aware that people living only hundreds of yards apart can have significant language differences, and I consider myself conversant in Americanese which for some bizarre reason they refer to as English.   And you don't need that contact to understand the term "sack lunch" is American; I have never heard it in Canada.  Americans get their groceries in sacks, Canadians in bags.

And who has ever heard of even a bag lunch on a Canadian airline coming from Alberta or BC to (probably) Ottawa?  Or an airline that announces food availability an hour into the flight?  I used to have a drink and a snack between Saskatoon and Winnipeg, about a 50 minute flight.  Do they really serve sack lunches on some American airlines?

In my lifetime I have known many people in the Canadian military, some close friends from high school.  And also some American counterparts who we used to hold keg parties for after they were drafted to protect the American way of life from communism in Viet Nam 

Perhaps soldiers are different now than in my misspent youth, but this $5 lunch thing seeming expensive reeks of implausibility.  A Big Mac meal deal costs more; I can remember when the motto for that meal was "change back from a dollar".  Most of the enlisted ranks that I have known were hard-drinking folk.  On the night prior to shipping out to a major training exercise they were either with a girlfriend or in a bar, or perhaps both.  I expect the 10 soldiers were hung over and in no mood for food.  Let's remember that $5 barely covers a beer and tip these days, and probably isn't even close in a titty bar.  Jeez, I can remember paying $5-$10 in the mid-1970s just for the cover charge in topless bars in Montreal.  The soldiers were probably both broke and hung over, waiting for the next pay cheque so they could do it again; that's the military personnel I knew. 

I may be corrected on this point, but I believe military personnel in both America and Canada have a per diem expense account to cover any necessary meals and lodging when moving from one location to another.  So I'm leaning far more to the hung over theory than the broke one.

"Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot."  This pilot must have had an uneventful life, or perhaps one time he was homeless and living under a bridge.  Many times people have bought me lunch and many times I have bought other people lunch.  But I don't remember them.  I do remember family buying my lunch on my birthday last month.  Other than that I can recall Howie Larkie buying me a few lunches in Winnipeg in the early 1970s; Howie was the local Labatt's representative, an unforgettable character.  This whole "act of kindness I never forgot" is excessively hokey.

Another reason I think the flight captain may have been a homeless man recently is that as he came down the aisle he had to scan the seat numbers along the way.  He's the captain and he doesn't know the location (at least approximate) of every seat number on his aircraft?  I want to be on this guy's Do Not Fly List, just for my own safety.

And the captain just strolls down the aisle?  I thought these days they are instructed to stay in the cabin with a handgun, waiting for the next wacko to set his shoe or genitals on fire.   
As the Snopes people state, this story could be true, but they have been unable to verify it.  To me it is just plain goofy  

Surely there are better stories with verifiable acts that people could forward me.  Still, I appreciate receiving them because they confirm in my mind how gullible our society is as a whole.  The kinds of tales people gush over in e-mails or the social media give me insight into peoples' thought processes.
Very few people question the origin or intent of the numerous pro-military fables on the internet.  To me they are just a small part of the propaganda used to control the thought processes and behaviours of the populace.  Rare is the individual like me who laugh at these silly tales, invoking the wrath of strangers, friends and families alike.

It is politically incorrect to be critical of the American or Canadian military and of the foreign policies that are making them increasingly disrespected around the world.  Strong critics tend to get put on special lists of suspected subversives.  To get a better idea of why this is the case, I would recommend watching the CBC series "Love, Hate and Propaganda" hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos, which can be viewed online here.   Yes, it is several hours long.  But very little of value can be obtained without a time commitment.

I hold no special reverence for military personnel.  They are no more deserving of praise than farmers, miners, forest workers, truck drivers, rig workers, or industrial plant employees.  People in all those occupations do what they do to earn income and provide for their families.  And I have known people who died in all those occupations, providing the materials that the rest of the population takes for granted every day.  No-one ever bought them sack lunches in appreciation for what they contribute. 


Facebook Privacy Settings Hoax

"Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead." -- Benjamin Franklin
"Four score and seven years ago I found that not everything on the internet is true, regardless of how many times repeated."  -- Abraham Lincoln

The first quote above is real, and the second is obviously made up.  If you accepted the second at face value you have a severe gullibility problem that needs to be addressed.

With respect to the first quote, all criminal collaborators understand the truth therein.  I submit that anyone with two or more "Friends" on Facebook should take this saying to heart (unless, of course, those Friends are deceased).  

You should never expect privacy on the internet.  The expression "internet privacy" is an oxymoron.  You should assume that all your postings and every site you visit are backed up on a server somewhere and could be available to almost anyone anywhere at any point in the future.  Ever hear about Wikileaks or the hacker group Anonymous?   Government security agencies regularly monitor the social media for so-called subversives (a group I may be in, since I openly criticize many government policies and actions), and government agencies use the social media for propaganda.

What I find most baffling is that the same people who post the most personal things on the social media suddenly become concerned about their privacy settings.  You may have seen people post items like:  "Finished moving into new house at 123 Gullible Lane", with photos showing furniture and electronics.  A few weeks later there may be a post "Woohoo!  Going to Costa Rica Dec. 20-Jan 5".  I can remember when burglary used to be like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates -- thieves never knew what they were going to get.  Now anyone with rudimentary hacking skills can peruse potential targets without leaving home.

The Facebook privacy settings issue I deal with in this post is the one raised in this message which I have seen many times:
To all my FB friends: I request that you please do something for me ... I want to stay PRIVATELY connected with you. However, with the recent changes in FB, the "public" can now see activities in ANY wall. This happens when our friend hits "like" or "comment" and then automatically, their friends would see our posts to...o. Unfortunately, we cannot change this setting by ourselves because Facebook has configured it this way....So I'm asking for your help. PLEASE place your mouse over my name above (DO NOT CLICK), a window will appear, now move the mouse on “FRIENDS" (also without clicking), then down to "Settings", click here and a list will appear. REMOVE the CHECK on "COMMENTS & LIKE" and also "PHOTOS" by clicking on each one. By doing this, my activity amongst my friends and family will no longer become public. Thank you very much for doing this....
The first thing that tells me this could be a hoax (which it is) is the EXCESSIVE USE OF CAPS.  But instead of the normal proliferation of exclamation marks this message uses bastardized ellipses for some sentence enders.

What I did to determine this was a hoax was pop the sentence "By doing this, my activity amongst my friends and family will no longer become public" into a search engine.  You could use a smaller quote from the passage, and get similar results.  I got 3.7 million returns, of which the first 4 appear below (click for sharper image):
Note that the Snopes link is first.  This is one of the most popular sites for examining the truth in internet postings.  So here is the Snopes link.  Snopes quotes from a Sophos article which is worth reading; it seems to be the best analysis I have found.

The second link is some internet tech site where the writer has no problem calling this a hoax.

The fourth link is to Facecrooks where the privacy settings notice is referred to as a hoax.  Facecrooks also refers to the Sophos article linked two paragraphs above.

If you read some of the articles linked above you will understand the issue better.  Basically, the solution is to ensure that you use the "Friends" or "Custom Settings" to restrict who can view your postings, and ask your Friends to do the same.  The problem seems to arise when people use the "Friends of Friends" or "Public" settings, so don't use them and ask your Friends not to also.

You can review and change your Facebook Privacy Settings by clicking on the little arrow at the extreme upper right of your Facebook home page.  Here's a Facebook link on how to set your privacy setting on an individual post and another Facebook link on all issues related to privacy.
Unrelated to the above, I would encourage anyone who questions images on the internet to become aquainted with the Tineye site.  I have a plugin for this site on Firefox so all I have to do to find where else the image has appeared on the internet is right click the image, and click the Tineye option and in less than a second I will have all versions of the image.  

This is especially handy in debunking hunting and fishing fables that I get regularly via e-mail.  But it is also good at determining whether an image has been altered, and for tracking down where it was first posted. 


Trayvon Martin 6: Similar Mob Rule Events

Trayvon Martin 6: Similar Mob Rule Events
Human beings either function as individuals or as members of a pack. There's a switch inside us, deep in our spirit, that you can turn one way or the other. It's almost always the case that our worst behaviour comes out when we're switched to the mob setting. Jaron Lanier
No matter how obese we become physically, we are still capable of leaping to conclusions.  And people who rarely walk more than a few blocks can be champions at rushing to judgement.

As I am fond of saying, a collection of emotionally aroused, poorly informed individuals does not sum to the mythical “wisdom of crowds”. At best it results in groupthink and at worst a dangerous mob.

I am encouraged by the number of people who recognized the reaction to Trayvon's shooting as mob rule bordering on hysteria from the outset. I am also encouraged that some of them understand it is part of a pattern of such events.  Still, those who understand both are a small minority.

Let's review some previous mob rule type events. 

1987, New York State, Tawana Brawley. This 15-year-old African-American girl falsely accused some cops and a prosecutor of rape.  Brawley's two lawyers and Al Sharpton, notorious race baiter, whipped the media into a frenzy (see video of Al Sharpton here).  Even Bill Cosby got in on the commentary and supported Brawley, as did Spike Lee.

Brawley, her lawyers, and Sharpton were successfully sued for defamation by the accused prosecutor. Sharpton was found liable for seven instances of defamation.  But the prosecutor's life was already destroyed by the allegations.  And Al Sharpton's damages were paid by his supporters like Johnnie Cohrane.

1996, Atlanta, Georgia, Richard Jewell.   Jewell was pilloried in the media, accused of having planted a bomb at the 1996 Summer Olympics. The bomb had been planted by Eric Rudolph. Jewel successfully sued various media outlets, but died at a relatively young age of 44.

2006, Durham, North Carolina, Duke lacrosse. One of the best examples of mob rule is the Duke University lacrosse team case.  In that case Mike Nifong, the district attorney for Durham County, NC took an alleged rape case of an African American woman, Crystal Mangum, and used it to race bait his way into re-election.  There was absolutely no substance to the allegation that members of the Duke lacrosse team had participated in a rape, and that became clear as time went on, even before charges were laid.  But that didn't stop many Americans from castigating the lacrosse players.  

I can understand the prosecutor and the police cutting corners in an attempt to convict the innocent.  It happens all the time. I understand it, but certainly don't condone it.  The prosecutor's job is to ensure the truth is put before the court, not to secure a conviction.

But it was inexcusable for some of the Duke faculty (“the group of 88”) to publicly castigate the lacrosse players on zero evidence. And some of the students (the “pot bangers”) piled on with rallies, the most extreme advocating castration of lacrosse players.

Duke University President Richard Brodhead waffled on almost everything, offering little support for the legal presumption of innocence of the lacrosse players, and seemed intimidated by the “group of 88”. He would surely be a starter on the All-American Academic Wimps team.

But the mass media were the worst actors, in my opinion. The New York Times was especially biased in its coverage, as was a local Durham paper, the Herald-Sun. This piece of crap by Duff Wilson of the NYT is the point where they went into CYA mode, and began backpedaling.  You need a legal background and/or ongoing knowledge of the issues to understand how bad the article is.  People like Nancy Grace and Wendy Murphy stirred up the public with their indignation and inaccurate statements.

The blogger K. C. Johnson did a good job of explaining what was happening on a daily basis. A sample of what he wrote about Nancy Grace's coverage appears here.  Here's his dissection of Wendy Murphy.  Johnson's coverage was far superior to that of the mainstream media.

Al Sharpton went on Bill O'Reilly's show and as usual reiterated his theme of racism, and was encouraged that black organizations were supporting the "victim".  Jesse Jackson upped the ante by offering Rainbow Coalition money to pay for the "victim's" tuition.  The NAACP went into the fray early, attempting to interfere with monitor the investigation/prosecution.  Later, after Nifong had completed his media tour spouting lies about the lacrosse players, the NAACP said they would seek a gag order on the lacrosse players when they began to tell their side to the media.

There were numerous other persons involved in railroading the lacrosse players. The book Until Proven Innocent by Stuart Taylor and K. C. Johnson gives a good account of the entire debacle. Various law suits are still in progress, with lacrosse players seeking redress for harm done by the mob rush to judgement.

Incidentally, the prosecutor who replaced the disgraced Mike Nifong was fired recently for tirades against a judge. Read about the rise and fall of Tracey Cline here.  And if you didn't read the link to Crystal Mangum above, you might not know she is currently incarcerated on a murder charge, perhaps the last arrest of her troubled life.

2011, Durham, North Carolina, Alaina Giordano. Yes, Durham again. Only this one is not a criminal issue, but the actions of a mother upset with a child custody order. This was the case of Alaina Giordano whose husband obtained primary physical custody of the two children of the marriage.

Giordano had level four breast cancer and she mis-characterized the custody award as having been based on this factor alone. Giordano's case caught my eye because she made effective use of social media in addition to the always inaccurate, sensationalist mainstream media. A gullible public lapped it up and people vilified her husband, and signed an online petition to have the judge removed.

You may rightly assume that I have little respect for the analytical skills of the average citizen. I was amazed at how many people wrote highly opinionated messages without even reading the trial transcript. Of course the vast majority of those people would have no legal training and some would not understand the award even if they read it.

I read the transcript (three times) before I formed an opinion. It was a difficult case, and the judge said as much. The husband is not a person deserving admiration. But neither is the wife. She was the one consistently blocking the father's access to the children, not the other way around (as noted by the judge).

After reading the transcript I see no grounds for appeal. There are no controversial issues in a legal sense. The mental and physical capabilities of the respective parents to act in the best interests of the children, at present and into the future, are always considerations the court must take into account.

After seeing the mother's “bleeding hearts” con job in the media, I can guess at some of the behaviours and actions the judge observed in the four day trial, as well as those described in the court-mandated psychologist report.

One of the points made in the award is that the parents needed to stop using the kids as pawns in their disputes. So what did Giordano do after receiving the award? She went on national television with the kids, castigating the judge, and by implication her husband. Go figure! And of course none of the media interviewers asked her how putting the kids on national television was in their best interests. Disgusting!

As part of her disinformation campaign, Giordano had her publicist friend issue periodic press releases. As you can guess, those releases got picked up and published verbatim by the mainstream media. Many people responded to them as though each release was news, a form of investigative reporting by the outlet they read them on. Nitwits!

I had started an outline for a lengthy blog article on how Alaina Giordano deceived the public, and hopefully will get it up after I finish with Trayvon. As of today (April 27, 2012) Giordano is being discharged from hospital and entering hospice care (according to her Facebook site). The mainstream media have long forgotten about her, but a core group of gullibles hang out on her Facebook site.

Mob rule is not only an American thing.  I have lived in two Saskatchewan communities where citizens were wrongfully charged with satanic ritual abuse in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  One was in Saskatoon, and the other in Martensville, a bedroom community near Saskatoon. 

Most of the public had assumed guilt of the accused, because they were constantly told in the media, "kids don't make this stuff up".  But kids do repeat what overly zealous social workers, cops and prosecutors coach them to say. 

I knew one of the senior prosecutors who refused the cases for lack of evidence, but that didn't stop some of his subordinates from proceeding.  The employment and reputations of those wrongly implicated were seriously damaged. Some of them were awarded monetary damages later, but their lives were forever changed. Whenever their names come up people immediately think “child abuse”, not “wrongful prosecution”.

In 1969 I was living in Saskatoon about a mile from the Gail Miller murder.  After 23 years in prison David Milgaard was finally exonerated by DNA evidence that proved Larry Fisher was the murderer.  To this day some involved with the prosecution have not come to terms with the fact the wrong man was charged and convicted.  And some citizens are still convinced that Milgaard did it, and that there was some form of conspiracy to falsify DNA evidence.

The Saskatchewan events influenced my thinking greatly, having seen how normally rational people that I know personally can turn on others without a shred of evidence, merely lurid allegations made in the media. 

Please think of mob rule, rush to judgement, events like the above ones when encountering media reports on Trayvon Martin. How much is factual, and how much is merely allegation or opinion?


Trayvon Martin 5: My Theories on The Shooting

After George Zimmerman spotted Trayvon Martin loitering near or at the gated community clubhouse, both participants eyed each other carefully, perhaps nervously.

When Martin started running it was most likely because he was apprehensive of Zimmerman, not because he was doing anything wrong.  Zimmerman seems to have interpreted this as guilty action, that Martin had something to hide.  Remember there had been several recent break-ins.

It is not a known fact (to the public at least) that Martin was returning from the 7-Eleven; this is just one of many bits of hearsay advanced by Ben Crump, one of the Martin family lawyers.  Martin may have been to the 7-Eleven.  He may also have scored some dope, and may have been having a toke on the way home.  He also may have been surveying the houses for future yard thefts and/or break-ins.  All accounts of what he was doing prior to Zimmerman's call to police are supposition only.  The proof of one does not exclude the others.

If I were Martin, and wanting to avoid Zimmerman, I would want to stay in the well-lighted areas, while taking the most direct route home.  To maximize good lighting I would have gone straight east for about 400' to Retreat View Circle, then straight south about 400' on a (presumably) well-lit street to the front door of Brandy Green's townhouse.  Conversely, if I were afraid of Zimmerman cutting me off on Retreat View Circle with his SUV, I would want the most direct route, and would have gone straight east about 300' to the sidewalk tee, then south for about 400' along the less brightly lit sidewalk to the back door of Brandy's townhouse.  I would lean to the last possibility, because it would get Martin out of Zimmerman's line of sight sooner, and into a darker area where he is less likely to be seen.  He had a distance lead and probably was not afraid of Zimmerman catching him after the initial sprint.

The timeline makes it a certainty that Martin remained in the north end of the rows of houses, or if he went south, he doubled back to engage Zimmerman near the north end.  

What is not known is how the fight started.  I lean toward Zimmerman's allegations that Martin hit him, knocking him down.  Zimmerman had no motive to hit Martin.  All he needed was to keep him in sight until the cops arrived, which he could do simply by talking to him.  Martin, on the other hand, had not gone home, but had hid somewhere before confronting Zimmerman.  

While this is pure speculation, I see Martin as the more likely aggressor.  Zimmerman's allegations of Martin hitting him and knocking him down are supported by the police report indicating that Zimmerman had a bleeding nose, injuries to the back of his head, and a wet back as though he had been lying in the grass.

I grew up in a rough coal mining town in the middle of an oil patch.   It is hilarious to read the surmising of people who assume that George seriously outweighed Trayvon, and therefore Trayvon could not have been the aggressor.  Weight might matter in organized wrestling, but is hardly determinative in street fights which operate under less stringent rules, as demonstrated by Paul Newman in this video clip from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  

Zimmerman is not 240 pounds as Ben Crump would have you believe.  I took a screen capture of him in the cop shop, along with a screen capture of one of the officers taken as close as possible at the same spot for comparison.
While Ben Crump would have you believe that Martin was only 140 pounds, the partial police report listed his estimated weight at 160, which seems more likely from the more recent images of Trayvon I have seen.  I'm guessing they had about a 40 pound weight differential, not 100 pounds.

But the most hilarious part is that weight has little to do with it.  Mark Twain is credited with saying something to the effect that it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog that counts.  I had a classmate in grade 12 (about 5'11" and 140 pounds) whose favourite weekend pastime was beating up Junior A hockey players and big, dumb rig workers.

Serious fights are nothing like the sissy stuff shown on YouTube where people flail around endlessly, basically sparring with the air.  Most serious fights I have seen, and a few I have been in, are over within 5 to 10 seconds, when one of the combatants is stunned and goes down, often due to a sucker punch.  After that it's just the victor pounding or kicking the vanquished into submission.

I've seen several two-hit fights -- the first guy hits the second guy and the second guy hits the ground, or ice (hockey), or floor (bar), sometimes out cold.

Here's a YouTube video that starts as a drunken semi-serious sparring match.  Watch the smaller guy get in a good punch at the 19 second mark, and put the big guy down.  Sometimes that punch is the first one thrown. 

A gangly teenager like Martin could easily sucker punch Zimmerman and put him down.  And I think that's what happened.

Officer Timothy Smith wrote in his incident report that after handcuffing George and removing his handgun and holster:
While I was in such close contact with Zimmerman, I could observe that his back appeared to be wet and covered in grass as if he had been laying on his back on the ground.  Zimmerman was also bleeding from the nose and back of his head.
I am somewhat suspicious of the "as if he had been laying on his back on the ground" part; it sounds contrived and offers an opinion which was not needed.  Officer Smith says nothing about whether Martin's back was wet (he was found lying on his stomach), nor does Officer Ricardo Ayala, the first officer to make contact with Martin following the shooting.

If Martin's back was wet it means nothing.  They could have rolled over each other in their struggle.  But if it was dry, it most assuredly would indicate that Martin was the agressor.

I would like to know if the bullet exited.  Neither of the two short police reports mention an exit wound, but other officers, and certainly investigators with Major Crimes would have commented on the presence or absence.  I'm an amateur metal detectorist, and if the bullet exited and was in the area of the fight it would be relatively easy to find.  A bullet in the ground near the fight would not be good for Zimmerman.  The location of an exited bullet would say much about the respective locations of the combatants when the shot was fired.

I'm inclined to go with eye witness accounts that the two were wrestling on the ground when the shot occurred, although it is not clear who was on top.  From the evidence made public it would appear that Zimmerman was on the bottom.

Regardless, the coroner or medical examiner will undoubtedly have forensic evidence on bullet trajectory which could narrow down the possible locations of Zimmerman and Martin.  Also, the powder tattoo (or lack thereof) on Martin's clothing should define distance.  I got a good laugh out of the news report stating that a funeral director had determined that Martin was not in a fight.  Since when did funeral directors become medical examiners?

There is considerable conjecture as to who was doing the screaming heard on one of the citizen 911 calls.  Zimmerman and his family say it was him; the Martin family are sure it was Trayvon.  In the end it doesn't matter (other than partially discrediting Zimmerman's account if it turns out to have been Martin).  Martin could have been on top of Zimmerman, and then seen his handgun, and perhaps Zimmerman reaching for it.  Martin could well have been screaming for his life, knowing that if Zimmerman got the handgun out, his life might be over soon.  I haven't seen anyone else advance this theory. 

There has been considerable ink wasted on who saw what that night, and who heard what.  It's mostly irrelevant because eye witness testimony is one of the least reliable forms of evidence.  Many people have been wrongly convicted of major crimes by eye witness testimony alone, and sometimes executed, before conclusive evidence clears them.  But what is recorded on the citizens' 911 calls will be evidence for the timeline of the fight just before the shooting.

I learned about the unreliability of eye witness testimony back in 1969 when I was taking a law enforcement class from an ex-RCMP officer.  As he was droning on one day, the classroom door opened, a man entered, pointed a handgun at the instructor, said something, and fired some (blank) shots (loud!)  Then he left.  The instructor then gave us about 10 minutes to write down everthing we could remember about the incident. 

Then he gathered those accounts and gave us a specific questionnaire.  What was the shooter wearing?  What was his height and weight?  What hand was the gun in?  How many shots were fired?  How long between the first shot and each suceeding shot?  Did the man say anything (if so, what?)  What did he do with the gun after shooting?  What (if anything) did he say after shooting?  What did the instructor say (if anything) before or after the shooting?  What (if anything) did any member of the class say?  How long was the gunman in the room?  You get the drift.  If you've ever been in one of these exercises you'll understand why eye witness testimony is unreliable.

From the evidence made public there is nothing to discredit Zimmerman's claim of self defence.  I don't see how the "stand your ground" rule needs to be applied.  If Zimmerman was on his back, stunned, getting pounded, and in fear that he was going to be seriously injured or killed, he would be justified in using potentially lethal force with or without a "stand your ground" law.  

One of Zimmerman's spokesmen (probably brother or father) stated that the police had George walk the site and explain his locations and actions the morning after the shooting.  This would seem logical.  And there certainly could be some officers thinking George should be charged with manslaughter, e.g.  And a prosecutor could very well look at all the evidence available at that time and decline to support the laying of a charge at that time.

The public seems to be under the mistaken impression that someone injured or killed is entitled to his/her day in criminal court.  There is no such legal principle.  The principle is that an accused is entitled to his/her day in court, to have a fair trial before being sentenced or set free.  Ethically, a prosecutor should not proceed with a case where he/she does not have a reasonable chance of securing a conviction, regardless of personal feelings of culpability.  Or politics.

Now that Zimmerman has been charged with second degree murder, the Martin family should fade from the scene, because all they have asked for publicly is for Zimmerman to be arrested and charged.  If the Martin family, or more likely their lawyers, continue to make public statements then there is another agenda at work.  I will deal with this in a later post on why this particular story is deemed newsworthy.

There is nothing stopping the Martin family from seeking civil remedies against Zimmerman, and potentially the community association and the City of Sanford.  That's why Ben Crump is there; he's a civil litigator.  But the civil litigation can be planned more carefully if there is a criminal trial first.

I'd sooner be defence counsel than prosecutor on this one.  But at this point I know very little, only the small amount of evidence that is in the public domain.  That's only the tip of the iceberg; there is much more evidence that is not public.  There always is.

Trayvon Martin 4: Trayvon Lies in Wait (timeline analysis)

One of the first things I do in any investigation is establish a timeline of events, a concept most journalists seem unacquainted with.  For instance, some journalists reported that Trayvon went out to get snacks during the NBA All-Star game.  On March 13, Miami Herald reporter Fabiola Santiago (who supposedly taught journalism at two Florida universities) wrote:
It was the halftime of the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 26, when Martin left the townhouse in a gated community and went to buy snacks at a nearby 7-Eleven. He was wearing jeans, a hooded gray sweatshirt and red-and-white Air Jordans.

How stupid or lazy do you have to be to report something like that?  Trayvon was shot around 7:16 p.m. and the NBA All-Star game, being played about 20 miles south in Orlando, started at 7:30 p.m.  See why I have so little respect for journalists?  If the reporter can't even get this right, what else is wrong in the article?  Having questioned this reporter's competence, I now leave myself open to cries of "racist!" because the reporter was a Cuban refugee.

Below is a Google map of the gated community.  "GZ Vehicle" indicates the area on Twin Trees where George Zimmerman parked while observing Trayvon Martin. 

Next is the same map with different additions.  I have marked the tee intersection of the sidewalk as "0" (zero).  Then I scaled off distances in 100 foot intervals.  Those to the left (west) where Zimmerman parked are in aqua, the one to the right (east) is in lime green, and those down from the tee (south, towards Brandy Green's townhouse) are in blue.

You might want to click on this map below and print it off, or save it and load it in an image viewer, for easier flipping back and forth between discussion and map locations.
One thing that becomes evident (when combining this map with Zimmerman's call to police) is that the absolute maximum distance Trayvon had to travel from when George stated "He's running" is 800 feet (0.15 miles).  That would be from the 300' (aqua) mark on Twin Trees across from the clubhouse, to the 100' (lime green) mark on Retreat View Circle, then down to about the 400' (blue) mark to Brandy Green's townhouse.  I would estimate the minimum distance to be 500'.  The most probable scenarios put the distance between 600-700'.

I have also located the red X for the shooting location at the 100' mark south of the sidewalk tee, as a maximum distance from the tee for time calculations; it appears to have been less distance from videos. 

Here is a daylight image of the sidewalk tee (source).  Trayvon would have been shot on or near the sidewalk within 100' behind the woman.  Trayvon was staying less than 400' down that sidewalk.  The townhouse visible past the end of the sidewalk is on the far (south) side of Twin Trees Lane, about 500' from the tee.  Also note the location of the trash receptacle and the barriers between residences that would make good hiding locations.
The following images are screen shots from Fox News video coverage shot February 26 and 27, 2012.  It is the earliest coverage of the event that I found and is worth viewing.  Note that everything that Brandy Green and Tracy Martin say about what Trayvon was doing is self-serving hearsay.  They have no personal knowledge of Trayvon's travels, having gone out for a meal before Trayvon left Brandy's townhouse, and not returning until about 10:30 p.m., 3 hours after the shooting.  I was particularly interested in Brandy's hearsay statement "He was sitting on the porch" because this would have been a porch of a stranger -- not her porch or the porch of a near neighbour.

The first screen capture, from 49 seconds into the video, shows some of the police at the crime scene, standing on the sidewalk slightly to the east of the tee, with the shooting location less than 100' to the left (south).  Note the green trash receptacle near the tee.
The next screen capture is taken from 56 seconds into the video and shows Brandy Green and Tracy Martin, the next day (February 27), at the location they say was the shooting scene.  Note the sidewalk tee and trash receptacle in the background.
At this point it might be useful for the reader to listen to GZ's call to police, which can be found unredacted here or redacted here.  Also essential is the partial police report which can be found here.  This can be supplemented with the police dispatch logs of GZ's calls.  The original dispatch log by Sanford police that I used in my timeline disappeared, but this backup (note: large .pdf) seems to display identical information.  I used the entries by police dispatcher "snoffke" at Terminal 21, page 46 of the report, to match timeline points in the audio tape.

Following is most of the dialogue on GZ's call with times from the start of his call and the time "snoffke" recorded the same dialogue where applicable (Z for Zimmerman, D for dispatch, material in quotes is exact language to the best of my ability):
0:04 Z - break-ins in neighbourhood, suspicious guy
0:18 Z - looks like he's up to no good, on drugs or something
0:22 Z - it's raining, he's just walking around looking about
0:26 D - white, black, or Hispanic?
0:29 Z - "He looks black"
0:31 D - see what he's wearing?
0:34 Z - "dark hoody, like a gray hoody, and either jeans or sweat pants, and white tennis shoes"
0:42 Z - he's here now, just staring
0:47 Z - now he's staring at me
0:56 D - he's near the clubhouse now?
0:58 Z - "Yah, now he's coming towards me"
1:04 Z - got his hand in his waist band
1:08 Z - "he's a black male"
1:10 D - how old?
1:13 Z - "late teens" 
1:17 Z - "something's wrong with him"
1:22 Z - "he's coming to check me out"
1:24 Z - "he's got something in his hands -- I don't know what his deal is"
1:30 D - "we got them on the way" [officers]
1:32 D - "just let me know if this guy does anything else"
1:37 Z - "these assholes, they always get away"
2:07 Z - "shit, he's running" [19:11:59 on dispatch report]
2:09 D - "which way is he running?" 
2:10 [sounds like GZ exiting vehicle]
2:12 Z - "down towards the other entrance to the neighbourhood"
2:15 D - "which entrance is that?"
2:18 Z - "the back entrance"
2:20 [start of wind noise on GZ phone]
2:22 Z - [almost inaudible, sounds like "fucking coons"]
2:24 D - "Are you following him?"
2:25 Z - "Yah"
2:26 D - "Okay, we don't need you to do that."
2:28 Z - "Okay"
2:38 Z - "He ran."
2:41 [end of wind noise on GZ phone]
2:47 Z - [gives phone number to D]
2:54 D - do you want to meet with the officer?
2:57 Z - "Yah."
3:01 Z - straight past the clubhouse, make a left, go past mail boxes, look for my truck
3:19 D - "What address are you parked in front of?"
3:23 Z - "I don't know.  It's a cut through, so I don't know the address."
3:27 D - "Do you live in the area?"
3:32 D - "What's your apartment number?"
3:34 Z - "It's a home, it's one-nine-five-zero -- aw, crap, I don't want to give it out, I don't know where this kid is."
3:48 Z - "Could you have them call me and I'll tell them where I'm at?" [19:13:41 on dispatch report]
4:01 D - "Okay, no problem, I'll notify them to call you when they're in the area."
4:03 Z - "Thanks."
4:04 D - "You're welcome." [End of call]

Now let's match up two reference points on the phone call and the dispatch log.  At 2:07 GZ states "He's running" which appears at 19:11:59 on the dispatch log.  At 3:48 on the phone call GZ asks for the officers to call him on arrival; this appears at 19:13:41 on the dispatch log.  The time difference is 1:41 on the audio transmission and 1:42 on the dispatch log.  The two timelines are consistent.  The end of the call would be 19:13:57.  So George and Trayvon met up some time after 19:13:57.

Note that lawyer Ben Crump, acting for the Martin family, states that he has phone records showing that Trayvon was talking to his girlfriend from 7:12 p.m. to 7:16 p.m. at which point she states (via Crump) the call was dropped. 

Here are some pedestrian travel times used in my calculations:
3.0 mph = 264'/min, covers 100 feet in 22.7 seconds [slow walk -- me carrying groceries 1.5 miles, including wait times to cross streets]
4.0 mph = 352'/min, covers 100' in 17.0 sec [brisk walk]
8.0 mph = 704'/min, covers 100' in 8.5 sec [slow running rate that I averaged running 2 miles for conditioning when in my 30s]

Use the information above to develop your own timeline and distances Martin and Zimmerman may have travelled at various points.  Some of what I assume will turn out to be false.  But it's the best I can do with the info provided.

It seems illogical that Martin would have run easterly on Twin Trees Lane, and then around the curve to run south on Twin Trees to the first small cutout where he would go east again (Zimmerman probably would have followed with his vehicle which means it would no longer be on the east-west stretch as stated to dispatch).  Also, this would be south of the shooting area and would mean Martin went north from the cutout, away from Brandy Green's residence, not south, towards it.

The more logical assumption is that both Martin and Zimmerman went straight east on Twin Trees Lane to the east-west sidewalk that is the top of the tee.  I am also assuming that both actually were running, and that they ran at an average leisurely rate of 8 mph (704'/min).  I am assuming that Zimmerman ran for the 21 seconds that his phone had wind noise, and that Martin ran for 34 seconds from when George said "He's running" to when the wind noise stopped on George's phone.  Note that at 8 mph Martin could have been home (using max. distance of 800') in 1 minute 8 sec at the most.

At 8 mph Zimmerman would have covered 246 feet in 21 seconds, and Martin would have covered 399 feet in 34 seconds, assuming they stop running at the same time.  Zimmerman was on the phone for 1 min 23 sec after the wind noise stopped and his voice is normal, so he is either standing or walking during that time.

Let's assume Zimmerman stopped running when he reached the sidewalk tee, and calculate from there.  That would put his car at least 246' west on my aqua distance markers (plus any distance that he walked before running), in sight line of the clubhouse.  Let's assume (without deciding) that Trayvon started running before he got to George's SUV, say from the 300' aqua mark, within 100' of the clubhouse.  

By the time Zimmerman got to the tee Trayvon would have to be south of the point where he was shot, or on Retreat View Circle east of the tee (100' lime green mark), provided he kept moving at 8 mph.  The timeline suggests that he had more than 100' lead on George, probably 150' or more, and would have covered a minimum 400' of an extreme maximum 800' total distance to Brandy Green's residence from where he started running.  He may have had as little as 650' total distance (long way) or 550' (short way) if he started running after he reached Zimmerman's SUV.

Because Zimmerman was obviously trying to locate Martin for the remaining 1 min 23 sec of his call to police dispatch, it would seem logical that he checked both the north-south sidewalk between the rows of townhouses, and the sidewalk about 100' east on Retreat View Circle.  Obviously he never spotted Martin nor heard him talking on his phone. Remember that at 3:34 into his call he regrets giving his address because "I don't know where this kid is", leading to the inference that Zimmerman thought Martin could be hiding nearby.

What was Martin doing in the last 1 min 23 sec of Zimmerman's call to dispatch?  If he was walking home (as double hearsay from his girlfriend via lawyer Ben Crump would indicate) at a slow 3 mph, he would have covered 365', which would put him at least next door to Brandy Green's townhouse, if he took the long route via Retreat View Circle.  He would be home if he went down the sidewalk between the two rows of houses.

And what was Martin doing in the one to two minutes after Zimmerman's call to dispatch ended, and the time he met Zimmerman?  Obviously he either hid somewhere in the north end of the rows of townhouses, or he wandered around that area.  He could not have been walking home.

Note:  I am not stating that Martin did anything wrong by stopping or loitering in the area around the tee, because he was allowed to be there.  Similarly, Zimmerman was allowed to be there.  While dispatch told Zimmerman "We don't need you to do that", that is not a command to stay in his vehicle.  Dispatchers always advise citizens not to engage people they are reporting.  Everything Zimmerman did is consistent with him following Martin to keep him in sight until police arrived.  And he had a valid concealed carry permit for his handgun.  And he has no criminal record as is widely and falsely reported.  

Visitors to Florida might be surprised by how many citizens have concealed weapon permits -- 919,831 according to this article!  Women often carry hanguns in quick draw sleeves of their customized purses.  I suspect both Mickey and Minnie are packing; Orlando is a high crime rate area.  It's a gun(g)-ho culture.

To sum up this section, Martin wasn't running like a scared jack rabbit with a rabid coyote on his tail.  He started running, and then for whatever reason stopped and at some point decided to engage George.

I speculate on how that engagement may have unfolded in the next post: Trayvon Martin 5: My Theories on The Shooting.