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Trayvon Martin’s parents lead protests over Zimmerman verdict
By Edward Upright and Zachary Faginson | Reuters – 1 hour 6 minutes ago
NEW YORK/MIAMI (Reuters) – Trayvon Martin’s mother choked back tears as a crowd of 2,000 New Yorkers chanted “We love you” – one week after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder by a Florida jury in the fatal shooting of the unarmed black teenager.
Across the nation, hundreds marched in the heat of a summer Saturday to rally at federal courthouses in Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities, demanding “Justice for Trayvon.”
In Miami, Tracy Martin told about 300 supporters of his son’s cause that, after the acquittal, he has “come to realize George Zimmerman wasn’t on trial – Trayvon was on trial.”
In New York, hip-hop mogul Jay-Z and singer Beyonce, his wife, arrived at one of the largest of the protests organizer Rev. Al Sharpton said were planned for 100 cities nationwide.
Martin’s mother stifled sobs as she told the crowd: “Not only I vow to do what I have to do for Trayvon Martin, I promise I’m going to work hard for your children as well.”
Among “Boycott Florida” signs were protesters wearing T-shirts with a photo image of Martin in a hooded sweatshirt.
“I’ve got four beautiful daughters. I want them to look forward rather than behind their backs,” said Harlem resident Maria Lopez, 31, who attended the rally with her children.
Visible above the neckline of her Trayvon T-shirt was a tattoo of a packet of Skittles, the candy the teen was carrying when he was shot dead by the neighborhood watchman.
Civil rights leaders had voiced hopes for peaceful protests after outbreaks of violence that earlier this week led to arrests in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area.
Late last Saturday night, a Seminole County jury in central Florida acquitted George Zimmerman, who is part Hispanic, of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the incident, where 17-year-old Martin was shot through the heart.
About 500 people converged on the federal courthouse in Los Angeles under gray skies, toting signs saying ‘Open Season on the Black Man’ and ‘This Should Not Be OK in 2013 America.”
Protesters’ chants – “No Justice, No peace” – echoed across the courthouse plaza in call-and-response form.
Another speaker shouted out: “Who was that cryin’?” and the crowd responded: “Trayvon Martin.” That exchange was in reference to conflicting testimony about the high-pitched screams for help captured on the 911 call, that were identified by Martin’s mother as being Trayvon’s, and by Zimmerman’s mother as her own son’s.
Farther north in foggy downtown San Francisco, about 100 people stood in front of the Federal Building.
Reverend Arnold Townsend, 70, vice president of the local NAACP chapter, vowed to “bring to light this incident let black children know the system has them under attack.”
At the White House on Friday, President Barack Obama cautioned against violence, as he urged all Americans to try to understand the Martin case from the perspective of African-Americans.
“There is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws,” Obama said. “A lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush. If a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario … both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.”
Zimmerman remained free for more than six weeks after the incident because Sanford, Florida, police accepted that he had acted in self-defense. That ignited protests and cries of injustice across the country, shining a spotlight on issues such as race, profiling and vigilantism.
‘A WORLD WHERE RACISM EXISTS’
Sharpton has said he hopes continued public pressure will force the Justice Department to bring a civil rights case against Zimmerman.
Federal prosecutors have said they are investigating whether Zimmerman violated civil rights laws. But lawyers with civil rights expertise have said they think new charges are unlikely.
Public comments from one of the six jurors, citing Florida’s Stand Your Ground law as a factor in reaching her conclusion that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, has stepped up pressure on the state’s legislature to repeal or change the law.
The jury was told that Zimmerman had “no duty to retreat and right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believed it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself.”
Although Stand Your Ground was not cited as part of the defense, the jury’s instructions came from the 2005 statute.
Florida Governor Rick Scott told a sit-in outside his office in Tallahassee on Thursday that he supports the law and has no plans to convene a special legislative session to change it.
“We still live in a world where racism exists,” said Rev. Reginald Edwards at the U.S. District Courthouse in Tallahassee, where nearly 80 protesters assembled at midday to urge federal officials to charge Zimmerman with civil rights violations.
(Additional reporting by Tom Brown in Miami,; Emmett Berg in San Francisco and Dana Feldman in Los Angeles, Bill Cotterell in Tallahassee, Fla.; Writing by Chris Francescani; Editing by Dina Kyriakidou, Barbara Goldberg and Gunna Dickson)
Muslim preacher urges followers to claim ‘Jihad Seeker’s Allowance’
A Muslim preacher is secretly filmed urging followers to take benefits from the state to fund a holy war.
3:21PM GMT 17 Feb 2013
“The rest of the year they were busy with jihad [holy war] and things like that,” he said. “People will say, ‘Ah, but you are not working’.
“But the normal situation is for you to take money from the kuffar [non-believers].
“So we take Jihad Seeker’s Allowance. You need to get support.”
He went on to tell a 30-strong crowd: “We are going to take England — the Muslims are coming.”
Ridiculing the daily lives of UK workers, Choudary said: “You find people are busy working the whole of their life. They wake up at 7 o’clock. They go to work at 9 o’clock.
“They work for eight, nine hours a day. They come home at 7 o’clock, watch EastEnders, sleep, and they do that for 40 years of their life. That is called slavery.”
Choudary, a father-of-four, claims more than £25,000 a year in benefits, £8,000 more than the take-home pay of some soldiers fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, according to the Sun, which covertly filmed the preacher at three meetings.
At another meeting in Slough infiltrated by the Sun, Choudary was filmed proclaiming that Islam was taking over Europe.
“Now we are taking over Birmingham and populating it,” he said.
“Brussels is 30 per cent, 40 per cent Muslim and Amsterdam. Bradford is 17 per cent Muslim.
“These people are like a tsunami going across Europe. And over here we’re just relaxing, taking over Bradford brother. The reality is changing.”
Choudary, who has been banned twice from running organisations under the Terrorism Act, told an audience at a community centre in Bethnal Green, East London, that David Cameron, Barack Obama and the leaders of Pakistan and Egypt were the devil (shaitan) and should be killed.
“What ultimately do we want to happen to them?” asked Choudary. “Maybe I’m the only one who wants the shaitan to be killed. The shaitan should be finished. There should be no shaitan.
“Democracy, freedom, secularism, the parliament, all the MPs and the Presidents, all the kuffar’s ideas, everything the people worship, we have to believe that they are bad and we have got to reject them.”
When later confronted about his filmed speeches, Choudary said: “Many people in the Muslim community are on Jobseeker’s Allowance and welfare benefits. As a joke I may say something about Jihad Seeker’s Allowance. Clearly it is not a Jihad Seeker’s Allowance.
“The word jihad means struggle. It does not necessarily mean fighting. I have never said to anyone to kill anyone in this country.”
irishtimes.com Wednesday, February 13, 2013 The Irish Times – Wednesday, February 13, 2013 Obama to speed up withdrawal of Afghan forces SIMON CARSWELL, Washington Correspondent President Barack Obama is to fasttrack the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, reducing the number of military personnel at a speedier rate than that recommended by senior Pentagon commanders. The decision, which was expected in his State of the Union address last night, will remove 34,000 of the 66,000 troops in the country by February 2014 in the face of advice by commanders, including the man who was in charge of the war effort until last weekend, Gen John Allen, who have said that no more than 25,000 should be recalled this year. The president is seeking to strike a balance between securing political support for a speedy withdrawal from the 10-year conflict in Afghanistan while maintaining sufficient resources to support local troops as the US withdraws on a phased basis. The Obama administration plans to keep troops in the country in 2015 and later years, but the number is still being considered. Military commanders want a base of about 10,000 troops after 2014; Obama’s advisers want a smaller presence. The president’s comments on Afghanistan were one of only a few expected references to national security in his annual State of the Union address as he focused on domestic issues to rally grass-root support for highly ambitious legislative plans including changes to fiscal policy, and immigration and gun control laws, through a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. The future size of US involvement in Afghanistan, one of two conflicts that Obama aims to wind down, is being debated amid budgetary pressure on Congress to reduce federal spending, including military expenditure, which accounts for about $700 billion a year or a fifth of all government spending. The cost of maintaining one member of the US military in Afghanistan is estimated at about $1 million a year. Deputy defence secretary Ashton Carter warned that the Pentagon would have to put hundreds of thousands of civilian workers on unpaid leave, cut the amount spent on ship and aircraft maintenance and curtail training if $46 billion in spending cuts come into effect as scheduled in two weeks. “These devastating events are no longer distant problems. The wolf is at the door,” Mr Carter told the Senate armed services committee, urging Congress to delay the automatic cuts. His testimony is in line with claims by military figures that trimming the defence department’s 10-year budget by about $500 billion would devastate the military and severely threaten US security. Mr Carter said that the military faced a crisis of readiness by the end of the year due to the $46 billion in cuts forced through by the so-called sequestration of across the board spending cuts on March 1st and by the failure of Congress to decide on the level of defence spending for the 2013 fiscal year. Sequestration is the by-product of a stand-off between the Obama administration and congressional Republicans from 2011, when the two sides agreed to raise the US debt limit after the GOP wanted cuts in government spending to match any increases in the country’s capacity to borrow. Pressure on military spending mounts as the Pentagon faces criticism over whether its “Africa Command” division overseeing the training of armed forces in African countries is sufficiently resourced as the US responds to Islamic militants in Mali and Libya. Leon Panetta, the outgoing US defence secretary, described the sequestration as “legislative madness”. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2013/0213/1224329979103.html