Outrage, protests over the George Zimmerman ruling
Largely peaceful protests were sparked across the country Sunday by the news that a Florida jury had ruled Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Trayvon Martin Saturday night. Protesters in Los Angeles partially shut down southbound 10 Freeway near Crenshaw for a short time before being dispersed by police.
Even President Obama weighed in, calling for calm and reflection following the decision.
Amid all of the tension and emotion surrounding the trial, the prosecution may have doomed itself from the beginning:
Prosecutors could not prove Zimmerman was driven by “ill will or hatred” — the necessary elements of a murder case — when he got out of his vehicle on a rainy night and went after the teenager.
In the confrontation that followed, they also could not prove Zimmerman struck the first blow. If the teenager turned in fear to attack the stranger who was pursuing him, Zimmerman could claim he acted in self-defense. If the jurors were in doubt as to who struck first, they were obliged to hand down an acquittal.
But the ruling may not be the end of Zimmerman’s days in court, as the Justice Department has confirmed it is still looking into the case.
Read more on the latest developments on Nation Now.
Photos: Joshua Trujillo, Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press, Robyn Beck, Mario Tama / AFP/Getty Images
NEED TO KNOW
Not guilty. Those two little words don’t mean that George Zimmerman didn’t shoot Trayvon Martin dead one night in Florida while the 17-year-old was unarmed. But they do mean it wasn’t murder. And they mean a lot of people are very, very angry.
Protests, marches and vigils took place across the United States last night, from Times Square to Hollywood Boulevard. As thousands expressed their disbelief, outrage and grief, President Barack Obama asked them and every American to turn their attention to preventing another “tragedy” like this one. Campaigners say they’ll start with the statutes that have made it legal for Zimmerman and others to “stand their ground” at the cost of others’ lives. George Zimmerman is not guilty. Is the law?
Guilty. Proving that a conviction can be just as controversial as an acquittal, protests have broken out in Bangladesh as a war crimes tribunal delivered its verdict on a leading Islamist figure. Ghulam Azam, the former head of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was convicted of planning, inciting and abetting crimes against humanity during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence with Pakistan, and sentenced to life in prison.
While prosecutors compare the 90-year-old Azam to Adolf Hitler, his supporters maintain that the charges are aimed at wiping out a still powerful political force. They staged violent protests ahead of the verdict, and have now called a general strike in response. Others, meanwhile, believe that Azam is guilty but are angry for a different reason: that he and other elderly convicted war criminals have not been sentenced to death.
WANT TO KNOW
See you in Cairo. Senior American diplomat William Burns is in Egypt today for talks with the country’s interim leaders. Under Secretary of State Burns is the first US official to visit Egypt since the military overthrew President Mohamed Morsi almost two weeks ago.
He has the lofty mission of communicating “US support for the Egyptian people, an end to all violence, and a transition leading to an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government,” according to the official bumpf. In practice that might look a little less dignified — especially if talks turn to US aid, Washington’s biggest carrot if it’s continued and biggest stick if it’s not. Four F-16 fighter jets to anyone who can tell us whether Burns will meet with members of the increasingly squeezed Muslim Brotherhood, or even Morsi himself.
On the new, old Burma Road. Burma is changing. The country has left behind its military government, its sanctioned economy, even its name, to become the new Myanmar. And the journey’s far from over.
GlobalPost took 20 young Burmese and American reporters around Myanmar to better explore how far the country has come, and where it has yet to go. Along the ancient Burma road, through the capitals past and present, down the Irrawaddy Delta and across Yangon itself, they traveled across Myanmar at a crucial time in its history. Travel with them in GlobalPost’s new, in-depth series: A Burmese Journey.
STRANGE BUT TRUE
A book by any other name reads just as well, apparently. At least if it’s written by J.K. Rowling, who forewent the considerable star power of her own moniker in favor of anom de plume for the publication of her latest oeuvre. ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling,’ a racy little crime novel supposedly penned by one “Robert Galbraith,” has been confirmed to be the work of none other than the ‘Harry Potter’ author herself.
Rowling says she wanted to publish the book — which was well-received on its own terms — without the hype that would inevitably be attached to anything signed by her. What else has she written without telling us? And has anyone ever seen her in a room with Dan Brown? Hmm.
Need to know:
More than 100 countries meet today in Parisin a bid to form a united front on the crisis in Syria.
Russia and China won’t be among them.
Both countries have shunned the so-called Friends of Syria alliance, where the agenda is set by Western and Arab allies who want President Bashar al-Assad to leave power. Beijing and Moscow baulk at what they claim would be interference with another nation’s sovereignty, especially when talk turns to military intervention.
The absent Friends were in everyone’s mind, nonetheless: addressing today’s meeting, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanded that Russia and China "get off the sidelines" and agree to a UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Syria’s government.
One unexpected addition to the guest list, however, is Syrian Brigadier General Manaf Tlas: the senior officer and long-time ally (friend?) of Assad reportedly fled Syria last night, and is said to be on his way to France.
Want to know:
George Zimmerman’s defense team is scrambling to raise the thousands of dollars they need to secure his release, after a judge yesterday set his bail at $1 million.
His family doesn’t have “anywhere near” that sum, according to Zimmerman’s lawyer. His legal fund contains $211,000 for his entire defense, and donations to it have been slowing, the attorney said.
The man who shot Trayvon Martin has been in jail since last month, when the same judge revoked his bail after prosecutors said that Zimmerman and his wife lied to the court about their finances.
"By any definition, the defendant has flouted the system," Judge Kenneth Lester ruled. "But for the requirement that he be placed on electronic monitoring, the defendant and his wife would have fled the United States with at least $130,000 of other people’s money."
Dull but important:
Libyans vote tomorrow to elect a national assembly, their first free ballot in more than 40 years.
The 200-member congress they elect will appoint an interim goverment and select a committee to write a constitution, which will then be submitted to voters in a referendum.
It’s the first, crucial step toward political stability in Libya – political stability that will, in turn, bring back foreign investment to the country’s most valuable natural resource, its oil. GlobalPost surveysthe prospects for the oil industry in a new Libya.
Two former Argentinian dictators have been sentenced to jail for stealing babies.
Jorge Rafael Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, who presided in turn over Argentina’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship, were found guilty of overseeing the systematic theft of children born to political prisoners. At least 400 babies are thought to have been taken from their parents and adopted by members of the regime, in an attempt to stamp out the opposition movement.
Bignone and Videla were sentenced to 15 and 50 years, respectively. The sentence all but guarantees they will die in prison: the two men, both in their 80s, are already serving lengthy jail terms for other crimes committed under their rule.
Strange but true:
Did A Farewell to Arms leave you vaguely unsatisfied? Would you have prefered it if they’d all – spoiler alert – lived happily ever after in their Alpine cabin?
Well, it turns out Ernest Hemingway wasn’t entirely sure about the ending either. So not-entirely-sure, in fact, that he wrote it 47 times. Those 47 “what ifs” will be included in a new edition of the novel, to be published next week.
From what we can tell, they’re all pretty much variations on the “we’re all going to die” theme. But fingers crossed, there might be at least one version in which we do so in a full-scale alien invasion.