Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, July 20, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page 13




Mountain Views News Saturday, July 20, 2013 

HOWARD Hays As I See It



“I want to address my children . . . 
You’re strong, you are black and you are 
beautiful and whenever you need me 
don’t think the distance should keep you 
away from me, okay? . . My love is here 
without seeing you or not and I know 
that angels are watching over you . . .” - 
Marissa Alexander


Henry Sanford was a mid-19th century heir to a 
manufacturing fortune who wasted it on unsuccessful 
business ventures, including an orange plantation in 
central Florida – where a town now bears his name. 
As our ambassador to Belgium, Sanford lobbied 
Congress to support King Leopold II’s rape of the 
Congo. Countless chained women and children died 
of starvation as they were held hostage while their 
men worked to expand rubber production. 10 million 
Congolese succumbed to murder, famine and disease.

 Sanford saw the Congo as a repository for our 
country’s black population. He argued the colony 
would benefit from an influx of those with an 
American background; we’d benefit by being rid of 

 Around the turn of the last century, the town 
of Sanford grew by “hostile takeover”; absorbing 
and dismantling the civic structures of adjacent, 
autonomous black communities. It later boasted 
a ballpark which hosted spring training for the 
Montreal Royals, the Dodgers’ AAA farm team. In 
1946 the Royals were to debut with their newly-
signed shortstop, Jackie Robinson. Hundreds of 
Sanford residents descended on City Hall, demanding 
that an integrated team not be allowed to take the 
field. The Chief of Police had the facility padlocked. 
As recounted by daughter Sharon Robinson, “The 
Robinsons were run out of Sanford, Fla. with threats 
of violence.” A local newspaper editor described 
Sanford as a place “filling in the public pools rather 
than integrating them.”

 In July 2005, two armed white security guards, 
failing to identify themselves as such, confronted a 
group of black teens parked in the lot of a Sanford 
apartment complex. They say they fired at the 
windshield as the car sped towards them, killing the 
driver. One guard was a police volunteer, the other 
the son of a police detective. Neither was arrested.

 They were later indicted for manslaughter by a 
Seminole County grand jury. An investigation 
showed that shots were fired after the car had stopped. 
The “driver”, Travares McGill, had been shot in the 
back. He was sixteen. A judge dismissed the case, 
ruling legitimate self-defense.

 Justin Collison is the son of a Sanford Police 
Lieutenant. He’d been arrested for shooting into a 
vehicle; the charges were dropped. In December 2010, 
he came out from a Sanford bar and sucker-punched 
a black man hard in the back of the head, driving his 
face into a light post, knocking him unconscious and 
breaking his nose, reportedly shouting “nigger” as he 
again punched the man while he was down.

 The police arrived and tended to the victim. Despite 
there being numerous witnesses, one of whom 
volunteered he had video of the entire incident, the 
police declined to intrude on Collison’s evening. A 
month later after the video appeared on YouTube 
and local newscasts, charges were filed for felony 
battery and disorderly conduct. Collison agreed to 
counseling for alcohol abuse and anger management.

 The Sanford Police official in charge the night of 
the Collison incident was Sgt. Anthony Raimondo. 
He was also the first supervisor at the scene of an 
incident, some fourteen months later, involving the 
death of a black teenager who’d gone to the store for 
snacks to share with his 12-year-old brother waiting 
at home for the start of the second-half of an NBA 
playoff game.

 George Zimmerman had been arrested for felony 
“resisting officer with violence” and “battery of law 
enforcement officer”. The same year, his ex-fiancé was 
granted a restraining order against him for domestic 
violence. He’d been fired from a job as bar bouncer 
for being too physically aggressive with customers.

 Zimmerman stalked and shot to death Trayvon 
Martin, just turned 17. Police arrived about a minute 
after Trayvon was killed, and let Zimmerman walk 

 They coached Zimmerman on how to respond to 
questions. In a February 2012 interview with Sanford 
Police Det. Chris Serino, Zimmerman was played 
recordings of the cries for help heard preceding the 

 Serino: “That’s you . . . You hear yourself?” 

 Zimmerman: “That doesn’t even sound like me.”

 Serino: “That’s you.”

 The U.S. Dept. of Justice didn’t share the proclivity of 
Sanford officials for summarily dismissing the killings 
of black teenagers. Under pressure, Florida Gov. Rick 
Scott appointed a prosecutor and, 44 days after the 
killing, George Zimmerman was placed under arrest.

 In Jacksonville, 120 miles up the Florida coast from 
Sanford, Marissa Alexander was a 31-year-old black 
single mother of three young children, one born days 
before. She had no criminal record, had earned her 
master’s degree and supported her family with a job 
at a payroll software company. She had a restraining 
order against her husband for spousal abuse, one 
incident having sent her to the hospital.

 In August 2010, she felt it was safe to return 
to their old home to retrieve some clothes. Her 
husband, who’d threatened to kill her, was there and 
surprised her – enraged at finding messages from 
her ex-husband on her cell phone. Marissa fled to 
the garage but found the outside door locked. She 
took the handgun, which she was licensed to carry, 
from the glove compartment of her car, confronted 
her husband and demanded he leave. He refused 
and, feeling threatened, Marissa fired a warning shot 
into the ceiling. No one was injured, as no one was 
intended to be.

 The words quoted above were spoken as Marissa 
Alexander faced her children in the courtroom before 
being led away to begin her mandatory twenty-year 
sentence for the act of having fired her gun. It had 
taken the jury twelve minutes to convict her.

 Two days after his acquittal, George Zimmerman 
got his gun back. Editor’s Note: At press time, the Department 
of Justice The Department of Justice sequestered all evidence in the 
Zimmerman case until their investigation is complete.

 Despite all the caterwauling you hear 
about nepotism, rigged elections, waivers, 
loopholes, crony capitalism, foxes guarding 
henhouses, gerrymandered legislative 
districts, incompetent court-appointed 
attorneys, misleading negative campaign 
ads and government surveillance programs, 
we Americans are an alarmingly contented 

 The anti-corruption nonprofit Transparency 
International has surveyed citizens in 107 
countries and released its 2013 Global 
Corruption Barometer. The 24/7 Wall Street 
organization has used that information 
to determine the nations with the highest 
percentage of respondents who claim 
corruption is a very serious problem in their 
own nation.

 Liberia and Mongolia rose (sank?) to the 
occasion, but the mighty United States of 
America couldn’t even make the top nine!

The U.S. has already lost bragging rights as 
the most obese developed nation in the world. 
Must we also lag behind in the corruption 
race? How did it come to this?

 One commentator (awash in jingoism and 
naiveté) opined that the U.S. really IS better 
than the other countries, because of reliable 
laws and institutions that have “leveled the 
playing fields.” Um, yes. He forgot to mention 
that, in that leveling process, someone’s 
brother-in-law got a no-bid contract and paid 
underage illegal immigrants under the table 
to do the bulldozer work!!!!!

 A more reasonable (albeit unfair) 
explanation is that many foreigners have 
fewer distractions and more time to focus on 
corruption. (“Hmm…watch the neighbor’s 
yak go through shedding season again or 
report the local magistrate for waterboarding 
my only child. Decisions, decisions…”)

 Yes, Americans may gripe and moan, but 
our political/cultural leaders have graciously 
given us a nice “bread and circuses” approach 
to rearranging our priorities so that, when 
push comes to shove, we rarely put our 
discontentment into action. (“When Honey 
Boo Boo throws a 
tantrum about arcane 
accounting rules that 
encourage off-the-
books partnerships 
for hiding liabilities, 
then, by golly, I’ll 
be the first in line to 
stage a coup!”)

Perhaps the 21st 
century has made 
us too mellow. Nonjudgmental Americans 
insist, “No, sweetheart deals don’t bother me 
– as long as the sweethearts can be the same 

 Most importantly, Americans have become 
too INSULATED from devious doings. The 
vast majority of the mischief takes place in 
Washington lobbyist dinners or smoke-filled 
statehouse rooms. By and large, we just aren’t 
directly exposed to the stereotypical two-bit 
shakedown artists who extort bribes in other 
countries. (“Come for the spring festival, stay 
for the summer festival…or the Travelocity 
gnome gets it!!”)

 So if we’re going to make more of a splash 
in the next Global Corruption Barometer, we 
need to encourage American officials to take 
a more visible “in your face” approach. 

We need police forensics experts offering to 
draw a more flattering chalk outline of your 
deceased love one for a nominal fee, and 
DMV employees whispering, “For an extra 
20 you can get the GLAMOR PHOTO on 
your driver’s license…”

How about little countertop signs that 
announce, “Take a penny, leave a penny…
either way, you’re actually automatically 
casting a vote for the political party that 
always runs this burg. Ha ha ha ha ha ha 

 C’mon, America, let’s give a really blistering 
appraisal of the U.S. on the next survey.

Unless you’d rather *ahem* pool your 
resources so the Transparency International 
folks find a little something extra in their pay 



Want to go 
into space for 

Try the balloon 
that will fly 22 
miles high and 
offer panoramic 
views of the 
Earth: In about 
2 years Eblooní 
service will 
take passengers 
to near space 
but it will cost 
$144,000 for 
a pod of four people. Space tourists will 
journey to earth’s outer limits in a capsule 
that can hold six people (four people plus 
two pilots) tethered to a high tech balloon. 
They will be able to see the sun and stars 
at the same time, while looking down on 
fantastic panoramic views of Earth. The 
experience will be very much like that in 
an airplane although there will be a period 
of about 30 seconds of weightlessness and 
passengers will be able to float around the 

Not so sweet side effects of artificial sweeteners: 
Writing in Trends in Endocrinology & 
Metabolism, researcher Susan Swithers 
argues that artificial sweeteners may 
negatively affect our metabolism and brain 
and even lead to weight gain. She says that 
these artificial sweeteners may change your 
brain’s sweetness pleasure centers and cause, 
quote, “metabolic derangements.”

There is no scientific consensus’ on sea-level 
rise: There isn’t enough data to say with 
any certainty what will happen to sea levels 
around the world , and there is no “scientific 
consensus” to say that the rate of the seas’ 
rise will accelerate dangerously. This is 
according to a group of eminent specialists 
based in Germany, the Netherlands and 
the UK. Writing in the Nature Geoscience 
this week, they say that the Greenland and 
Antarctic ice sheets have been reported to be 
losing mass at accelerating rates . However, 
at present there is no scientific consensus 
if these reported accelerations are from 
variability inherent to the ice sheet climate 
system, or reflect long-term changes.

Today’s 90 year olds are surviving into very old 
age with better mental performance than ever 
before: People born in 1915 scored higher in 
cognitive tests in their 90s compared with 
those born a decade earlier, according to a 
study from Denmark in The Lancet. Better 
living standards and intellectual stimulation 
may be key factors, experts say. The number 
of people reaching very old age is on the rise 
globally. In the US, for example, the number 
of people aged 90 or above has more than 
doubled in 30 years. 



We value gold for many reasons: its beauty, 
its usefulness as jewelry, and its rarity. Gold 
is rare on Earth in part because it’s also 
rare in the universe. Unlike elements like 
carbon or iron, it cannot be created within 
a star. Instead, it must be born in a more 
cataclysmic event—like one that occurred 
last month known as a short gamma-ray 
burst (GRB).

Observations of this GRB provide evidence 
that it resulted from the collision of two 
neutron stars—the dead cores of stars 
that previously exploded as supernovae. 
Moreover, a unique glow that persisted 
for days at the GRB location potentially 
signifies the creation of substantial amounts 
of heavy elements—including gold.

“We estimate that the amount of gold 
produced and ejected during the merger of 
the two neutron stars may be as large as 10 
Moon masses —quite a lot of bling!” says 
lead author Edo Berger of the Harvard-
Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics 

At today’s market rate, that amount of gold 
would be valued at ten octillion dollars—
that’s a 1 with 28 zeros behind it, says 

A gamma-ray burst is a flash of high-energy 
light (gamma rays) from an extremely 
energetic explosion. Most are found in 
the very distant universe. Berger and his 
colleagues studied GRB 130603B which, 
at a distance of 3.9 billion light-years from 
Earth, is one of the nearest bursts seen to 

Gamma-ray bursts come in two varieties—long and short—depending on 
how long the flash of gamma rays lasts. GRB 130603B, detected by NASA’s 
Swift satellite on June 3rd, lasted for less than two-tenths of a second.

Although the gamma rays disappeared quickly, GRB 130603B also displayed 
a slowly fading glow dominated by infrared light. Its brightness and behavior 
didn’t match a typical “afterglow,” which is created when a high-speed jet of 
particles slams into the surrounding environment.

Instead, the glow behaved like it came from exotic radioactive elements. 
The neutron-rich material ejected by colliding neutron stars can generate 
such elements, which then undergo radioactive decay, emitting a glow that’s 
dominated by infrared light—exactly what the team observed.

“We’ve been looking for a ‘smoking gun’ to link a short gamma-ray burst 
with a neutron star collision. The radioactive glow from GRB 130603B may 

be that smoking gun,” explains Wen-fai Fong, a graduate student at the CfA 
and a co-author of the paper.

The team calculates that about one-hundredth of a solar mass of material 
was ejected by the gamma-ray burst, some of which was gold. With several 
moons worth of gold being produced by just one GRB, and given the many 
such blasts that are thought to have occurred since the Big Bang nearly 14 
billion years ago, Berger and his team suggest that neutron star collisions are 
the primary factories for gold in the cosmos.

“To paraphrase Carl Sagan, we are all star stuff, and our jewelry is colliding-
star stuff,” says Berger.

You can contact Bob Eklund at:

Photo By Dana Berry, Skyworks Digital