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George Zimmerman claims NBC News portrayed him as a 'racist and predatory villain' to boost ratings: lawsuit

George Zimmerman
© The Associated Press/Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/Pool
George Zimmerman, center, is directed by a Seminole County Deputy and his attorney Mark O'Mara during a court hearing Thursday April 12, 2012, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of the 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
The neighborhood watch volunteer accused of killing Trayvon Martin slapped NBC News with a lawsuit Thursday, charging it portrayed him as a "racist and predatory villain" to boost ratings.

George Zimmerman's lawyers blasted the network for using "the oldest form of yellow journalism" in coverage of the racially charged case.

"They knew this tragedy could be, with proper sensationalizing and manipulation, a racial powder keg that would result in months, if not years, of topics for their failing news programs, particularly the plummeting ratings for the ailing Today show," charged the defamation suit, filed in Seminole County, Fla., Circuit Court Thursday.

But NBC said it would contest the suit "vigorously" in court. "There was no intent to portray Mr. Zimmerman unfairly," the network said in a statement.

Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in the case, claims he shot and killed the unarmed black teen in self-defense.

Moments before the Feb. 26 shooting in a Sanford, Fla., gated community, Zimmerman, a member of his neighborhood watch group, called 911 to report a "guy" lurking around houses in the rain.

The lawsuit charges that NBC reporters "maliciously edited" the 911 recording to make it appear that Zimmerman was "racially profiling Martin."

Black Cat 2

When felines attack: Do house cats ever kill people?

Scary Cat
© Anna Sematkina/iStockphoto/Thinkstock
An Illinois man planned to kill a rival for his wife's affections by electrocuting him and then framing the victim's cat for the murder. Brett Nash was arrested for the bizarre plot in January and pleaded guilty on Tuesday. Do cats ever kill people?

Not grown-ups. Rabies deaths notwithstanding, the Explainer is unaware of any incidents in which a house cat has killed its able-bodied adult owner. Cats can, however, inflict a pretty gruesome mauling. In 2010, a postpartum cat in Idaho bit her owner 35 times, going back for a second round of scratches and bites after the owner washed off the blood.

Last year, a Cleveland man was airlifted to a hospital after a brawl with his tabby cat. Fights with humans usually don't end well for felines. The New York Times reported a dramatic scene in 1921, when a pet Angora clamped down on the finger of a Manhattan woman who was riding in the tonneau of her husband's car. The husband responded by strangling the cat to death, although that didn't stop an arriving police officer from drawing his weapon against the lifeless feline. It wasn't the last time the NYPD had to face down a house cat: A year later, after being bitten by a cat on Columbus Avenue, a police officer shot the animal dead with his revolver.

Cats occasionally kill infants, but the deaths are accidental. In the early 1980s, a Norwegian father discovered his cat sleeping on the face of his 5-week-old baby. Although the father administered CPR, the child eventually died from the aftereffects of asphyxiation. (A doctor's report suggested that cats might be responsible for some cases of sudden infant death syndrome.) In 1931, a Connecticut cat took a nap on the chest of a 4-month-old child, smothering him. There were several reports of similar incidents in the 19th century.

Stormtrooper

Another TSA agent accused of iPad theft


Sean Henry, TSA
© Port Authority Police Department
Transportation Security Administration baggage screener Sean Henry is shown in this police booking photo.
A TSA agent was arrested this week and charged with stealing from passengers traveling through New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, adding to the long list of TSA officers accused of theft of passenger belongings.

TSA baggage screener Sean Henry, 32, was arrested on Tuesday after a sting operation conducted jointly by the TSA and the Port Authority Police Department caught Henry leaving the airport with two iPads that had been planted as part of the sting, as well as numerous other electronics devices he had allegedly stolen from passengers. Just as in a recent ABC News investigation of thefts by TSA agents, the sting used the iPads' own tracking capabilities to follow the stolen tablets' movements.

Transportation Security Administration spokesman David Castelveter told ABC News that the TSA has "taken the steps to begin processing [Henry] for termination."

"TSA holds its employees to the highest ethical standards and has zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace," said Castelveter in a statement.

In September, an ABC News investigation revealed that 381 TSA officers had been fired for theft between 2003 and 2012, including 11 up to that point this year.

X

New York village bans front yard clotheslines, punishable by up to $1,000 and 15 days in jail

clothesline
© clipart.com
clothesline
Great Neck, New York - Officials in Great Neck don't want you airing out your dirty laundry - or clean laundry for that matter.

The village board has banned the hanging of laundry on front lawns, making it a violation punishable by up to $1,000 and 15 days in jail.

Some residents say they never realized it was a problem.

"The whole time I've been here, I've never seen that. That's a surprise," said Martha Curtis.

But village officials say it was becoming a problem, and next they'll take up another growing problem - living room couches on front porches.

"I've never seen couches on front porches," Curtis told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs. "This is funny to me."

Christmas Tree

Christmas tree banned: 'Religious symbol'

Image
© Andy Holzman/Daily News
Residents of The Willows senior apartment complex in Newhall gather around a Christmas tree that the owners ordered staff in a memo to take down.
California - Residents in a Newhall senior apartment complex are protesting an order from management to remove their beloved Christmas tree from the community room because, they were told, it's a religious symbol.

On Tuesday, Tarzana-based JB Partners Group Inc. sent a memo to staff at The Willows senior apartment building demanding they take down Christmas trees and menorahs in communal areas.

The company has owned The Willows for four years, but this is the first time it's given such a directive to staff.

On Wednesday, two dozen residents in the 75-resident complex gathered in the lobby to place a neon green sign that read: "Please Save Our Tree."

"We're all angry. We want that tree," said Fern Scheel, who has lived at the complex for nearly two years. "Where's our freedom? This is ridiculous."

The Willows staff and JB Property supervisor Wethanie Law declined to comment.

JB Partners Group owns apartments in California, Oklahoma and Colorado.

Dollars

Orange County parents offer $1,000 to find daughter's bully


Los Alamitos, California - Kaylie Castillo, 16, says she's been bullied to her breaking point.

The Los Alamitos High School student told CBS2's Stacey Butler Wednesday she was bullied all last year and the harassment started up again two days ago.

"I just want it to stop," said Kaylie, who's afraid to go to school.

Last year, someone allegedly vandalized her locker and left a mouse in it, wrote obscene things about her in the school bathroom and spray-painted "slut" on her driveway. The culprit also left excrement at her front door and covered her mom's car in baby powder. Then, promiscuous texts were sent to a boy at school as if it were coming from Kaylie's phone.

On Monday, Kaylie said, "it all started happening again."

2 + 2 = 4

Parents sue Chicago public schools after teen strip-searched in bathroom

Image
© CBS News
William Howard Taft High School
The parents of a 15-year old boy who was allegedly strip-searched at a high school last month have filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Public Schools.

In an exclusive interview with CBS 2 Investigator Pam Zekman, the boy and his outraged parents described what happened.

"He came home crying. So I asked him why he was crying," said the boy's father, Anthony Woodman. "And he was like hysterical. He tells me he's been strip-searched."

It allegedly happened at Taft High school last month.

His mother, Michelle Woodman said she contacted the CBS2 Investigators "so this doesn't happen to anyone else. No one should go through what our son went through."

Apple Red

Second-graders charged for bathroom breaks

Teacher's Reward Program Charges Second-Graders for Bathroom Breaks
Going to restroom costs kids "Boyd Bucks" that are earned with good behavior


Stormtrooper

Taser International sued by man left with brain damage after being electrocuted

Image
© Reuters/Bazuki Muhammad
Taser International is being forced to defend itself in court this week after a man filed a lawsuit against the electroshock gun company, claiming he went into cardiac arrest as a result of being shot in the chest by a Taser.

­Colin Fahy, who was 17 years old at the time of the incident, was shot in the chest with a Taser by police responding to a domestic disturbance complaint at his home in St. Louis. Police Officer Karen Menendez claims she used the Taser on Fahy, who was drunk and high, after he lunged at her and one other officer, according to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Menendez shot the gun twice, delivering one 25-second shock and one 5-second shot. Fahy went into cardiac arrest soon afterwards, which the plaintiff claims was a direct result of the stuns from the Taser.

"On December 7, 2007, St. Louis police officers used the X26 Taser on Fahy, causing him to go intro ventricular fibrillation and cardiac arrest," read court documents signed by United States District Judge Catherine Perry in 2010.

After falling to the kitchen floor, the teenager was handcuffed by the officers. At this point he was blue in the face and unresponsive. Fahy was subsequently hospitalized, suffered cardiac arrest for 30 minutes and was on life support for weeks. The young man now suffers from permanent brain damage and struggles with short-term and working memory.

Stock Up

Greece jobless rate rises to 26 percent

Image
© Unknown
Greece's unemployment rate rose to 26 percent in September, the Greek Statistical Authority announced Thursday.

An estimated 1.3 million people were recorded as being unemployed in September, RT reported.

The jobless rate is up from 25.3 percent the previous month and 18.9 percent a year earlier, with Greece headed towards its sixth straight year of recession.

The number of people employed stood at 3,695,053, and another 3,373,692 were listed as financially inactive, according to the September data.

Greek unemployment has surged as a result of harsh austerity measures imposed by the government in return for international rescue loans.