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Protests against the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed African-American teenager Trayvon Martin continued across the country Monday. In Los Angeles, at least 13 people were arrested overnight as police accused some protesters of vandalizing cars, breaking windows and setting fires. The Los Angeles Police Department first declared a tactical alert and then an unlawful assembly, allowing them to arrest protesters who did not clear the streets. Meanwhile in Oakland, hundreds of protesters blocked traffic on Interstate 880 during rush hour Monday evening. At least six people were arrested. Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the Zimmerman verdict Monday during remarks before the African-American sorority Delta Sigma Theta.
Eric Holder: “We are also mindful of the pain felt by our nation surrounding the tragic, unnecessary shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, last year. And we are cognizant of the fact that the state trial reached its conclusion over the weekend. As parents, as engaged citizens, and as leaders who stand vigilant against violence in communities across the country, the Deltas are deeply, and rightly, concerned about this case. The Justice Department shares your concern. I share your concern. And as we first acknowledged last spring, we have opened an investigation into this matter.”
National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In a letter to the prize committee, Swedish sociology professor Stefan Svallfors cites Snowden’s “heroic effort at great personal cost,” saying he has “helped to make the world a little bit better and safer.” Svallfors also suggests giving the award to Snowden might make up for the “disrepute” incurred by the committee’s “ill-conceived” decision to give President Obama the award in 2009.
Edward Snowden announced Friday he would seek temporary asylum in Russia until he could get to Latin America. Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously said Snowden must abandon work harmful to the United States in order to stay. On Monday, Putin accused the United States of trapping Snowden in Russia.
President Vladimir Putin: “He arrived on our territory without an invitation. We didn’t invite him. And he was not flying to us; he was flying in transit to other countries. But as soon as he got in the air, it became known, and our American partners, actually, blocked his further flight. They themselves scared other countries.”
Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, who revealed Edward Snowden’s leaks, is hitting back at a Reuters article he says is aimed at distracting attention from revelations about the National Security Agency’s massive, secret spying at home and abroad. The article quotes Greenwald in an interview with the Argentinean daily La Nación saying, “Snowden has enough information to cause [more] harm to the U.S. government in a single minute than any other person has ever had,” and that, “The U.S. government should be on its knees every day begging that nothing happen to Snowden, because if something does happen to him, all the information will be revealed and it could be its worst nightmare.” In a piece for The Guardian, Greenwald says the quotes were taken out of context and misconstrued as threats. Greenwald wrote, “My point in this interview was clear … had [Snowden] wanted to harm the U.S. government, he easily could have, but hasn’t. … That demonstrates how irrational is the claim that his intent is to harm the U.S.” Greenwald went on: “I’m reporting what documents he says he has and what precautions he says he has taken to protect himself from what he perceives to be the threat to his well-being. That’s not a threat. Those are facts.”
In Egypt, new clashes have erupted after a week of relative quiet. At least seven people were killed and more than 260 wounded in overnight violence spurred by this month’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. Supporters of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood blocked traffic and marched on a key square, angering local residents. Police fired tear gas and birdshot into the crowds while some protesters threw rocks. The violence came as Deputy Secretary of State William Burns became the first U.S. official to go to Egypt since Morsi’s ouster. He addressed a news conference on Monday.
William Burns: “Only Egyptians can determine their future. I did not come with American solutions, nor did I come to lecture anyone. We know that Egyptians must forge their own path to democracy. We know that this will not mirror our own, and we will not try to impose our model on Egypt. What the United States will do is stand behind certain basic principles, not any particular personalities or parties.”
A judge in Fulton County, Georgia, has issued a last-minute stay of execution for a man diagnosed as mentally disabled. Warren Hill was due to be executed Monday night, but a judge intervened hours beforehand in response to a legal challenge related to a Georgia law that makes the suppliers of the lethal injection drug pentobarbital a “state secret.” Under the law, “Mr. Hill is left with no means for determining whether the drugs for his lethal injection are safe and will reliably perform their function,” his lawyers argued. Hill was sentenced to death for killing a fellow prisoner while serving a life sentence for murdering his girlfriend. All medical experts who have examined him now agree he meets the definition of mental retardation; three who initially disagreed have since recanted. Hill’s lawyers have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene, saying Hill’s execution would violate its 2002 decision banning the execution of prisoners deemed mentally retarded. Hill’s execution could still go forward this week pending the outcome of a court hearing set for Thursday.
Defense lawyers for U.S. Army whistleblower Bradley Manning argued Monday that seven of the charges against him should be thrown out, including the charge of aiding the enemy, which could carry a life sentence. Colonel Denise Lind, who is presiding over his court-martial at Fort Meade, said she would rule on the motions Thursday. Defense lawyers say the prosecution has failed to show Manning had “actual knowledge” the documents he gave to WikiLeaks would end up being seen by U.S. enemies, including al-Qaeda. They say prosecution arguments imply anyone who gives information to a news outlet that publishes it could be deemed to have given it to the enemy.
The president of Burma has promised to release all political prisoners by the end of the year. President Thein Sein made the comments during a visit to Britain. Pro-democracy groups have expressed skepticism, noting many activists in Burma are still facing trial.
Mexican authorities say they have captured the head of the notorious Zetas drug cartel in the border city of Nuevo Laredo. Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales is accused of a slew of charges including torture, murder, money laundering and importing guns typically used only by the military.
In New York City, a student occupation of the president’s office at Cooper Union has come to an end after more than two months. Students were protesting the school’s decision to begin charging tuition. The occupiers say they reached a deal with the administration to form a working group to seek alternatives to charging tuition and secure a new common space for working on the campaign.
A New York activist is walking 133 miles from Albany to Binghamton to bring a federal judge signed petitions on behalf of an imprisoned imam named Yassin Aref. Aref was sentenced to 15 years in prison, along with another mosque leader, in 2007 for laundering money as part of a fake terror plot invented by the FBI. Aref’s lawyers now say secret evidence revealed by a Freedom of Information Act request shows the FBI targeted Yassin Aref because they mistook him for an al-Qaeda agent named Mohammed Yasin, who was reportedly killed in an Israeli strike in 2010. Now, Lynne Jackson has launched a “Journey for Justice” to deliver a petition calling for “serious consideration of Aref’s assertion that the government targeted and convicted an innocent man.” This is Lynne Jackson speaking Friday as she walked with supporters.
Lynne Jackson: “The FBI targeted him because they thought he was an al-Qaeda agent when, in fact, he was not. And because this evidence was kept secret during the trial, the defense was unable to challenge that evidence. And this is why secret evidence is so bad. So, we have filed the petitions — lawyers filed the petitions today, and I’m going to hand-deliver signed petitions in support of Yassin Aref to the judge in Binghamton, New York.”