The second installment in our top stories for 2013 are:
Zimmerman Trial/Trayvon Martin
Undeniably one of the most talked about, debated, and divisive trials in recent memory, is the acquittal of Florida’s George Zimmerman.
When the nation was awakened to the “facts” that surrounded the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin, it quickly became evident that there were only two real witnesses to this incident; and one of them was dead.
In a well do to suburb of Orlando, on a rainy night, Citizen George Zimmerman took it upon himself to follow a young black male, confront him. A struggle ensued, a gun was pulled, and a young man is dead.
The debate would reach the White House where the President of the United States would say that Martin “could have been my son.” Sometime during the evening of Saturday, July 13th, a jury of 6 women found Zimmerman not guilty.
Allied Veterans arrests and fallout
50 persons, several of whom were in law enforcement, were arrested in what is arguably Florida’s most curious case of selective enforcement of gambling laws to date.
Hundreds of Internet Cafes were closed across the state by State legislation that was a direct result of FBI and IRS reviews that essentially said that the Allied Veterans of the World did not donate enough of its profits to charities to justify the enormous sums of money made.
As a result, the lawyer for the Allied, Kelly Mathis was arrested, convicted and disbarred. The CEO of Allied Charlie Bass and several other underlings were allowed to plead out with virtually no jail time. Former Police Union President Nelson Cuba and his union vice president have not pled and are awaiting trial or a plea sometime in 2014.
Collateral damage to the Allied scandal was retired Navy Commander and then Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll, who was forced to resign as a result of past legislative lobbying on behalf of Allied. Governor Rick Scott had not named a replacement at year’s end.
Meanwhile, a loophole somewhere in the hastily prepared legislation is allowing internet cafés to crop back up around the state. This time selling state sponsored Lottery tickets.
Charlie Crist enters the Governor’s race
2013 was a year in which recycling applied to former Governors. Former Governor Charlie Crist announced one of the worst kept secrets of the year when he declared that he would once again be a candidate for Governor of Florida.
Crist’s announcement is significant in that this Republican, turned pariah for hugging President Barack Obama 4 years ago, is now the Democrats’ best hope of denying Florida’s Rick Scott a second term.
Scott, a former health insurance executive worth millions, has had a tough time of it in the court of public opinion. His favorable ratings have never risen above 50%. His relationship with fellow republicans in the state legislature is based solely on party affiliation and not personal relationships (Scott never served a day in elective office).
Crist , it appears will lag behind Scott in fundraising, but the name recognition factor for both candidates appears to be the great equalizer. Crist may face token opposition in the 2014 fall primary, but this battle is expected to be the top national race to watch next November.
Undeniably one of the most recognized persons on the planet, the death of the former President of South Africa was a top story of 2013.
Mandela’s life is a classic tale of triumph over tragedy, and the power of reconciliation. The Mandela story is being documented in a year-end movie starring actor Idris Elba.
The carefully choreographed ending to the life of the man called “Madiba” in his homeland would be envy of many an ancient potentate. American President Barack Obama said “ we shall never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again.”
The Leaks of Edward Snowden
A college drop out with an obvious nerd’s interest in computers and sharing with others, became a major thorn in the side of the U.S. intelligence services. The escape and subsequent leak of top secret information by Edward Snowden have caused an erosion of public confidence in an American President and anger from American Allies who discovered that their phones were being tapped.
This 30-year old former CIA analyst fled to China and then to Russia leaving in his wake electronic bread crumbs that he says shows a U.S. government disrespect for its’ citizens and “what is being done in their name.”
So secure is Snowden in his safe Russian haven that he released a Christmas message in December.