May 02, 2013
By KYLE HIGHTOWER
SANFORD, Florida (AP) — The former neighborhood watch leader charged with fatally shooting a Florida teenager told a judge Tuesday that he agrees with his defense attorneys' decision not to seek an immunity hearing under the state's "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law.
Under questioning from Circuit Judge Debra Nelson, George Zimmerman repeatedly said "yes" to a series of questions asking if he was aware he was giving up the right to a hearing before his second-degree murder trial in June. A judge would have sole discretion in an immunity hearing to decide if Zimmerman is exempt from culpability in the shooting. A jury would make the determination in the murder trial.
"After consultation with my counsel, yes, your honor," Zimmerman said.
The judge had set aside two weeks at the end of April for an immunity hearing should Zimmerman want one. Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda had filed a motion asking that Zimmerman make clear his intentions on whether he wanted the hearing.
Zimmerman's defense attorney, Mark O'Mara, told the judge Tuesday there was nothing in the law that required the immunity hearing to take place before Zimmerman's trial and could be requested after prosecutors have presented their case.
"We'd much rather have the jury address the issue of criminal liability or lack thereof," O'Mara said.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense. Martin was fatally shot in February 2012 during a fight with Zimmerman in a Sanford gated community.
O'Mara also wanted the court to unseal details on a civil settlement Martin's parents received from Zimmerman's homeowner's association. O'Mara contended the settlement could influence the testimony of Martin's parents, if they are called as witnesses.
The judge said defense attorneys and prosecutors could see full copies of the settlement but the public would only be able to see a version from which some information has been removed.
Nelson rejected a request by O'Mara to find fault with prosecutors for what the defense attorney described as violations in providing discovery evidence to them. O'Mara said that prosecutors' failure to disclose evidence in a timely manner had caused his team "hours and hours of work."
The judge said she would hold a hearing after the trial to determine if prosecutors should have to pay for some costs that O'Mara said he incurred because of the alleged discovery problems.
May 02, 2013
By George E. Curry
PRETORIA, South Africa (NNPA) – Human rights activist Jesse L. Jackson has been presented the Companions of O.R. Tambo Award, the highest award a non-South African can receive, for his extensive efforts to held end apartheid in the country.
Jackson, founder and president of the Chicago-based RainbowPUSH Coalition, accepted the award Saturday from President Jacob Zuma at the Presidential Guesthouse here. Jackson’s wife, Jacqueline, and two of his children, Santita and Yusef, accompanied him to the capital city to accept the prestigious honor.
The former aide to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was cited “for dedicating his life to challenge societies and governments to recognize that all people are born equal, and that everyone is in equal measure entitled to life, liberty, prosperity and human rights.” He was honored “For his excellent contribution to the fight against apartheid.”
The award was named after Oliver Reginald Tambo, the former chairman of the African National Congress (ANC) who helped end White minority rule in South Africa 19 years ago. The award is presented annually to “eminent foreign nationals for friendship shown to South Africa.” The official description of the award says recipients are “concerned primarily with matters of peace, cooperation, international solidarity and support and is integral to the execution of South Africa’s international and multinational relations.”
The official program notes, “Jackson first visited South Africa in 1979 following the death of Steve Biko. He attracted huge crowds at his rallies in Soweto, where he denounced South Africa’s oppressive system of apartheid… Upon his return to the United States, Jackson intensified efforts to mobilize opposition to the ‘terrorist state’ of South Africa and reshape US policy on the country.
“From the outset, Jackson strongly opposed President Ronald Reagan’s policy of constructive engagement with the apartheid regime. He worked tirelessly to mobilize public opposition to the USA’s stance. Jackson entered the 1984 Presidential race with the anti-apartheid struggle at the center of his foreign policy agenda.”
The program recounted Jackson’s 1985 meeting with Pope John Paul II in which he invited the Pontiff to visit South Africa to help bring about majority rule. He also lobbied Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to cut diplomatic ties to South Africa. In addition, Jackson urged the U.S. government to fund resisters.
“He also called on Harvard and other universities to divest from South Africa,” the program stated. “In 1986, at the invitation of several African governments, Jackson led a delegation of activists, business representatives and academics to eight African countries, including the southern African ‘frontline states.’ The focus of the trip was to mobilize opposition to the apartheid regime.”
A frequent traveler to the continent, Jackson was in South Africa on Feb. 11, 1990 when Nelson Mandela emerged from prison after a 27-year confinement. Mandela would play a key role in the peaceful transition from minority rule to a democracy, becoming the first Black African elected president of South Africa. In speeches here at universities, the U.S. Embassy and a Black church, Jackson talked about his front-row seat to history and warned that although Black South Africans have finally won their political freedom, the next goal should be eliminating economic inequity, considered the worst in the world.
Also presented with a Tambo Award was Percival Patterson, former Prime Minister and ex-chairman of the People’s National Party (PNP) in Jamaica. Patterson was cited “For his support of the ANC and exceptional contribution to the struggle for liberation and a democratic South Africa.”
The official program noted, “A passionate opponent of apartheid, he was an ardent supporter of South Africa’s liberation movement. In 1987, during the time Patterson was the chairman of the PNP and Michael Manley was its President, the ANC was invited to attend the PNP’s Founder’s Day banquet celebrating the 15th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence. Then president of the ANC, Oliver Tambo, addressed the occasion in Kingston, Jamaica on 4 July 1987.”
When Patterson was serving as Prime Minister, Nelson and Minnie Mandela visited Jamaica, where they received strong backing.
Other Tambo award winners were: Dina Forti, who helped start an anti-apartheid movement in Italy and Enuga Reedy, former head of the United Nation’s Center Against Apartheid.
Winners – who were not allowed to give acceptance speeches – were presented a neck badge, a lapel rosette, a miniature medallion and a wooden ceremonial walking stick carved in the image of a mole snake. According to African mythology, the mole snake, called a majola, visits babies in the spirit of benevolence, protecting them from harm and preparing them for success in life.
Jackson said in an interview, “I am overwhelmed with honor and appreciation. It represents momentum for our African-American struggle merging with the Free South Africa struggle. Both struggles were parallel.”
April 25, 2013
By TAMI ABDOLLAH
The city of Los Angeles reached a $4.2 million settlement with two women who were injured when police mistakenly opened fire on them during the manhunt for disgruntled ex-cop Christopher Dorner, an official said Tuesday.
City Attorney Carmen Trutanich announced the sum to KNBC-TV Los Angeles, and an attorney representing the women confirmed the amount to The Associated Press.
The settlement must still be approved by the Los Angeles City Council.
Margie Carranza and her 71-year-old mother, Emma Hernandez, were delivering papers around 5 a.m. on Feb. 7 when LAPD officers guarding the Torrance home of a target named in an online Dorner manifesto blasted at least 100 rounds at their pickup.
Hernandez was shot in the back and Carranza had minor injuries.
The settlement means they cannot pursue any future injury claims against the city.
Dorner had vowed warfare on Los Angeles Police Department officers and their families for what he called an unfair firing.
He killed four people, including two law enforcement officers, during his nearly one-week run from authorities.
Attorney Glen Jonas, who represents the women, called the settlement amount fair and said it spared the city from defending a case that involved eight police officers and would have likely cost millions of dollars.
“The only certainty was the litigation was going to cost everyone a lot of money and a lot of time,” Jonas said.
Jonas sent a nine-page demand to the city more than a month ago that provided an opening to negotiations. He said he negotiated with Trutanich for weeks before the deal was reached on Monday night.
“We’re two veteran trial lawyers trying to settle a case, and we both understand the reality of litigation and what it costs to both sides,” Jonas said.
The women agreed to receive the payment after June 30 — the end of the fiscal year — to help the city with its budgeting. The agreement came in addition to a separate $40,000 settlement reached earlier for the loss of the women’s pickup truck.
“For them, the money is not the issue as much as (the city) just doing the right thing,” Jonas said. “Everyone agreed that they were wronged, but we didn’t know whether responsibility would be assumed ... It’s pleasant to get that done without having to go through years of litigation.”
The eight officers remain assigned to non-field duties pending an internal investigation.
May 02, 2013
Charlotte, N.C. Mayor Anthony Foxx speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 29, 2013, after President Barack Obama announced Foxx' nomination to succeed Ray LaHood as the next transportation secretary. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama looks toward Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx, left, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 29, 2013, where he announced he would nominate Foxx to succeed Ray LaHood, center, as transportation secretary. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
April 25, 2013
A state law enforcement agency is investigating the son of Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan after a newspaper determined he is a part-time suburban police officer who uses an unmarked squad car to provide traffic control for his father, an official said this week.
The (Chicago) Sun-Times also reported that Mustapha Farrakhan hasn't worked a shift for the department in more than four years.
"We opened a preliminary investigation after the Sun-Times told us about their investigation," said Kevin McClain, the executive director of the Illinois Police Standards and Training Board.
McClain said he ordered the investigation last week after a reporter contacted his office about what would become a front-page story.
Harvey Police Chief Denard Eaves described Farrakhan as a "volunteer" police officer, but declined to provide the newspaper any details, saying only in a statement that he "stands behind" Farrakhan's appointment and that "Officer Farrakhan assists the Police Department with community relations."
Eaves did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press. Farrakhan does not have a listed number and the Nation of Islam did not immediately return a call for comment from the AP.
The Sun-Times reported that the 52-year-old Farrakhan "certainly has a police badge" from Harvey, a suburb located just south of Chicago, and since 2006 has been registered as a "gun-carrying Harvey cop."
But the paper also found that Farrakhan lives in Crete, about 12 miles from Harvey.
And while state records show he has not worked for the department in four years, the newspaper found YouTube videos that show he has used the lights of his unmarked squad car to stop traffic and escort his father's "unofficial motorcade."
John Millner, the chief of police in Elmhurst and head of the Illinois Police Chief's Association, said that state law allows officers to use their police powers outside their jurisdiction but typically do so only in an emergency, or at the request of the department whose jurisdiction they are in.
McClain would not discuss the Sun-Times story or whether Farrakhan's actions as described by the paper might have been illegal.
Even before Farrakhan stopped logging hours as a sworn police officer more than four years ago, he worked very little, the newspaper said. According to Harvey police records filed with the state, he worked just nine hours in the first half of 2007, 14 in the second half, and 118 1/2 hours in the second half of 2008. After that, the newspaper reported, he stopped working for the department altogether.
Information from: Chicago Sun-Times, http://www.suntimes.com/index