VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press
AFTER ACQUITTAL, ZIMMERMAN STILL IN SPOTLIGHT
LAKE MARY, Fla. (AP) -- Whether they think that he got away with murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin or that he was just a brave neighborhood watch volunteer "standing his ground," many Americans can't seem to get enough of George Zimmerman. And he can't seem to stop giving it to them.
So it's hardly surprising that everything Zimmerman does produces a Twitterverse explosion and spins out into heavy news coverage. Comedian Deon Cole nailed it during an appearance on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" a couple of days after the July 13 verdict. Merely being found not guilty, he said of Zimmerman, "doesn't mean that you're a free man."
He certainly hasn't been free from the spotlight.
-Two stops for speeding.
-A cellphone photo of a smiling Zimmerman touring the Florida factory where the 9 mm semi-automatic pistol used in the February 2012 shooting was made.
-And, this week, police dash-cam footage of Zimmerman kneeling in the street to be cuffed after an alleged scuffle with his estranged wife and father-in-law.
It's not just his public outings and repeated brushes with the legal system that have kept Zimmerman in the spotlight. Martin's parents were prominent participants in last month's 50th anniversary commemoration of the March on Washington, and several civil rights leaders have called for the repeal of "stand-your-ground" laws, which generally remove a person's duty to retreat if possible in the face of danger.
Even when he helped extricate a family from an overturned SUV in July, Zimmerman couldn't catch a break.
The grateful couple canceled a news conference, defense attorney Mark O'Mara said, "for the possibility of blowback against them." People immediately suggested the incident was staged - or at least poked fun at the timing.
FEARS ABOUT FALLOUT FROM GOP DIVIDE WITH TEA PARTY
FLETCHER, N.C. (AP) -- Tea party activists, once unquestioned as a benefit to the Republican Party for supplying it with votes and energy, are now criticizing GOP leaders at seemingly every turn.
They're demanding that Congress use upcoming budget votes to deny money for putting in place President Barack Obama's 2010 health care law, despite warnings the strategy could lead to a government shutdown.
They're upset that Republicans didn't block a Senate-passed immigration bill.
Many are outspoken opponents of any U.S. involvement in Syria's civil war.
A recent Pew Research Center survey found that more than 7 in 10 self-identified "tea party Republicans" disapprove of the job performance of GOP congressional leaders.
Many of the major tea party groups are backing 2014 primary challengers against Republicans the activists deem too moderate, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Kentucky conservative once declared it his job to make Obama a one-term president.
That leaves some Republicans quietly worried that an intraparty tussle could yield a repeat of 2012. That year, conservative candidates lost winnable Senate races, and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney struggled to win over conservatives while still appealing to moderate swing voters.
The health care debate puts the GOP in its tightest spot. Wary Republicans recall the 1995-96 government shutdowns under President Bill Clinton, who persuaded many voters to blame the GOP and House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Georgia Republican, for that budget impasse.
McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other GOP congressional leaders endorse the idea to "defund Obamacare." But some also have tried to persuade core supporters that it won't happen because Democrats run the Senate and Obama won't gut his signature domestic achievement.
If Congress doesn't agree on appropriations at all, then many core government functions, including some military operations and the processing of Medicare claims and Social Security applications, would stop.
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