The trial date was set by judge Debra Nelson in a Florida court, but the court noted that there are still several unresolved matters to complete. As such the start of the trial may be pushed back further.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Martin in February – an incident that led to protests across the US and put state gun laws and race relations in America under a spotlight.
Martin was killed as he walked back to the home of his father’s girlfriend in Sanford, Florida, after a trip to a convenience store. After trailing the youth, whom Zimmerman claimed was acting suspiciously, the pair engaged in a fight during which Martin was fatally shot.
Zimmerman claimed self-defence, citing Florida’s controversial stand-your-ground law. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder.
Supporters of the Martin family have claimed that the shooting had a racial element, and that Zimmerman may have targeted Martin for attention because he was black.
A recorded conversation between the shooter and a 911 operator shortly before the incident may have contained a racial slur, some have claimed, although this has been dismissed by Zimmerman and his lawyers.
Nonetheless, the allegations stoked tensions in the immediate aftermath of the shooting on 26 February, prompting demonstration and claims of police mishandling in the case.
Next year’s trial is expected to last three weeks.
Network alleged to have sold favourable election coverage to top politicians Mexico’s biggest television network sold prominent politicians favourable coverage in its flagship news and entertainment shows and used the same programmes to smear a popular leftwing leader, documents seen by the Guardian appear to show.
The documents – which consist of dozens of computer files – emerge just weeks ahead of presidential elections on 1 July, and coincide with the appearance of an energetic protest movement accusing the Televisa network of manipulating its coverage to favour the leading candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto.
The documents, which appear to have been created several years ago, include:
• An outline of fees apparently charged for raising Peña Nieto’s national profile when he was governor of the state of Mexico.
• A detailed media strategy explicitly designed to torpedo a previous presidential bid by leftwing candidate Andres Manuel López Obrador, who is currently Peña Nieto’s closest rival.
• Payment arrangements suggesting that the office of former president Vicente Fox concealed exorbitant public spending on media promotion.
While it has not been possible to confirm the authenticity of the documents – which were passed to the Guardian by a source who worked with Televisa – extensive cross checks have shown that the names, dates and situations mentioned largely line up with events.
There is also evidence that actions suggested in the proposals did take place. The allegations come at a crucial time for Peña Nieto, the candidate of the ideologically nebulous Institutional Revolutionary party: recent opinion polls show his substantial lead beginning to erode as Televisa’s role as political kingmaker has become a central issue of the campaign.
In a country where newspaper readership is tiny and the reach of the internet and cable TV is still largely limited to the middle classes, Televisa – and its rival TV Azteca – exert a powerful influence over national politics.
They came in armoured vehicles and there were some tanks. They shot five bullets through the door of our house. They said they wanted Aref and Shawki, my father and my brother. They then asked about my uncle, Abu Haidar. They also knew his name.
My mum yelled at them. She asked: ‘What do you want from my husband and son?’ A bald man with a beard shot her with a machine gun from the neck down. Then they killed my sister, Rasha, with the same gun. She was five years old. Then they shot my brother Nader in the head and in the back. I saw his soul leave his body in front of me.
They shot at me, but the bullet passed me and I wasn’t hit. I was shaking so much I thought they would notice me. I put blood on my face to make them think I’m dead."
Jesus fucking Christ.
Two boys look on at a gathering in Mexico City’s Angel of Independence Plaza on Friday to protest Pope Benedict XVI´s first trip to Mexico. The visit comes during the middle of an important election year. (Nathaniel Parish Flannery)
In the center of the Angel of Independence Plaza, amid the traffic of central Mexico City, a group of a few dozen protesters gathered on Friday afternoon to protest the 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Mexico.
It’s been a year since Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi committed suicide after his roommate broadcast a video online of his sexual encounter with another man.
Tyler’s suicide was one of a string of bullying-related LGBT youth suicides last fall. The country stood in horror as one teenager after another made the dreadful decision, unable to take the harassment they faced because of their sexuality. And it’s not over; most recently, we mourn 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, who took his life last week.
Since last fall, we’ve made huge strides in addressing LGBT bullying. Dan Savage’s It Gets Better campaign and the Trevor Project have taken the lead in providing resources and hope for gay teens who feel trapped. Politicians and celebrities have stepped up as activists to push for change. School districts have enacted legal measures to crack down on bullying.
We can’t bring back Tyler or others who went through the same pain, but we can work to make sure nobody else has to hurt as they did. How have you changed in the last year? Have your thoughts on bullying changed?
Sen. John Kerry has introduced federal legislation that would protect same-sex couples from discrimination in matters related to housing. A version of the bill was introduced in the House as well.
The Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act, or HOME Act, would amend the 1968 Fair Housing Act to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This would relate to issues dealing with credit, acquisition of housing and custody of children, among other things, including making it easier for LGBT couples to fight back against discrimination. The Advocate article linked above has more of the legal details.
“It’s hard to believe that in 2011, any law-abiding, tax-paying American who can pay the rent can’t live somewhere just because of who they are,” Kerry said in a statement. “Housing discrimination against LGBT Americans is wrong, but today in most states there isn’t a thing you can do about it. This legislation would end discrimination that continues to hurt people.”
Now that is what I’m talking about.
A state judge in Alaska recently ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to the same senior citizen and disabled veteran property tax exemptions as straight couples.
Judge Frank Pfiffner decided that Alaska’s current marital classification violates the state’s equal protection clause. The state will review the judge’s decision soon. From the Advocate:
On behalf of three same-sex couples who were denied tax breaks they would have received if their union had been recognized by the state, ACLU of Alaska and the national American Civil Liberties Union challenged the state’s rules for tax assessment, such as the one that entitles married couples over 65 to exclude the first $150,000 of assessed value of their primary home from property taxes, regardless of which spouse holds title to the home.
Julie Schmidt and Gayle Schuh, together 34 years, were denied the exemption. “Gayle and I moved, built a home and a life here because we love what Alaska has to offer,” Schmidt said in an announcement from the ACLU. “It is gratifying to finally have our relationship recognized.”
Go Alaska go!