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George Zimmerman Agrees With Attorneys, Won't Use 'Stand Your Ground' Law Before Murder Trial

Source: Associated Press

SANFORD, Fla. - The former neighbourhood watch leader charged with fatally shooting a Florida teenager told a judge Tuesday that he agrees with his defence attorneys' decision not to seek an immunity hearing under the state's "Stand Your Ground" self-defence law.

Under questioning from Circuit Judge Debra Nelson, 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 honour," 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.

Read more: http://www.windsorstar.com/news/George+Zimmerman+agrees+with+attorneys+wont+Stand+Your+Ground/8315522/story.html

Handgun-Sales Age Requirement Upheld by Court in NRA Suit

April 30 (Bloomberg) -– A U.S. law that prohibits federally licensed dealers from selling handguns to buyers under the age of 21 was upheld by an appeals court in a lawsuit brought by the National Rifle Association.

The NRA sued the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in 2010 on claims the federal ban violated the constitutional rights of more than 11,000 NRA members who were 18 and older, though still younger than the federal minimum.

Government lawyers convinced a U.S. judge in Lubbock, Texas, that the ban didn’t violate younger NRA members’ Second Amendment right to bear arms or Fifth Amendment guarantee of equal protection. The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans yesterday agreed in a 41-page revised opinion.

“Congress designed its scheme to solve a particular problem: violent crime associated with the trafficking of handguns from federal firearms licensees to young adults,” U.S. Circuit Judge Edward C. Prado wrote on behalf of the three- member appeals panel.
“Congress could have sought to prohibit all persons under 21 from possessing handguns -– or all guns, for that matter,” Prado said. “But Congress deliberately adopted a calibrated, compromise approach.”



Car Bomb Explosion in Damascus Kills 13, State TV Reports

A car bomb in central Damascus killed at least 13 people, Syria’s state television reported, a day after Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi survived a bomb attack in the capital.

More than 70 people were wounded in the explosion in the Marjeh district, according to the report. The device detonated at the gate of the country’s old Interior Ministry building, the Coventry, England-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in an e-mailed statement.

Images broadcast on Al Arabiya television station showed damaged cars, a smoke-filled street and firefighters trying to extinguish flames.

Syrian rebels have targeted high-ranking government officials in their two-year fight to topple President Bashar al- Assad from power. The anti-Assad uprising has killed more than 70,000 people since it started in March 2011, according to United Nations estimates.



CIA Cash to Karzai Said to Fit Afghan Patronage System

By David Lerman and John Walcott - Apr 29, 2013

Afghan President Hamid Karzai won’t be hurt by revelations that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has funneled millions of dollars to his office because such dealings are expected in a society steeped in patronage, according to two former CIA officers.

The agency regularly delivered tens of millions of dollars over a decade to Karzai’s office in suitcases, backpacks and shopping bags, according to a New York Times report that cited current and former advisers to the Afghan president.

Karzai acknowledged receiving money from the agency during a news conference in Helsinki, Finland yesterday. He called the money a “small amount” that was used for health care and other basic needs. The CIA declined to comment on the report.

Such undercover payments are hardly new in Afghanistan, which depends on an extensive patronage system to deliver resources, said Reuel Gerecht, a former CIA officer who specialized in Iran and the Middle East.



Chicago Business Barometer Falls To Three-Year Low In April

4/30/2013 10:31 AM ET

Chicago-area business activity unexpectedly contracted in the month of April, according to a report released by the Institute for Supply Management - Chicago on Tuesday, with the reading on regional business activity falling to its lowest level in over three years.

The ISM Chicago said its business barometer fell to 49.0 in April from 52.4 in March, with a reading below 50 indicating a contraction in regional business activity.

The drop came as a surprise to economists, who had expected the business barometer to come in unchanged compared to the previous month.

With the unexpected decrease in April, the Chicago Business Barometer fell to its lowest level since September of 2009.

Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, said, "The weakness in Chicago was a surprise in part because Chicago was stronger than other regional indices from January to March."



Consumer Confidence in U.S. Rose More Than Forecast in April

By Jeanna Smialek - Apr 30, 2013
Confidence among U.S. consumers climbed more than forecast in April to a five-month high as Americans’ outlook for the economy and their incomes improved.

The Conference Board’s index rose to 68.1, exceeding the highest projection in a Bloomberg survey, from a revised 61.9 in March, data from the New York-based private research group showed today. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast an increase to 61.

Gains in the stock market, an increase in property values and cheaper prices at the gas pump are helping stabilize household wealth. A growing share of consumers expecting a pickup in incomes may help fuel the pace of spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, in the second half of 2013.

“The fact that they feel a little bit wealthier will give them a little more leeway,” said Brian Jones, senior U.S. economist in New York at Societe Generale. Still, “you’re going to have a spring lull, and growth will reaccelerate in the second half of the year. I do think the labor market is genuinely getting better.”

Forecasts (CONCCONF) of the 72 economists surveyed by Bloomberg ranged from 54.5 to 66.5 after a previously reported 59.7 in March. The measure averaged 53.7 in the recession that ended in June 2009.



The High Human Price of Cheap T-Shirts

Jamil can't stop thinking about the voices that came from the building: a mixture of pleading, praying, screaming and whimpering that rose from the mountain of ruins. "We heard people calling for help. We heard them begging for water and reciting prayers," the fireman recalls. "But we couldn't do anything for them. So many of were simply beyond our reach." They helped those they could, bringing food and water to people trapped in accessible cavities within the giant mound of rubble that days before was still a functioning factory building.

The disaster, in which several thousand people were buried alive in the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar, a suburb of the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, created sights and sounds that many will find hard to forget. Rezaul, for example, vividly remembers a woman with disheveled hair and a blood-encrusted face whose right leg was pinned down by a concrete pillar. "She begged me to saw off her leg and free her," he says. "I just happened to be there."
Rezaul works as a trash collector. When he heard about the disaster, he dropped his bicycle and trash bag, and ran to the site. "But I can't cut a person's leg off," he says. So he left the woman, and went in search of help -- in vain.

At least 3,000 people are believed to have been in the building on Rana Plaza at the time the building collapsed. More than 380 bodies had been recovered by Monday morning. Hundreds are still missing. And with every day that passes, the chances of finding survivors grows dimmer.

A Disaster of Historical Proportions

The deadly incident in Savar has already been called the worst industrial accident in the country's history. It serves as a reminder that nothing has changed when it comes to the inhumane conditions under which clothes are made in Bangladesh for European and American textile companies and clothing chains. And the same can be said about the culture of corruption that is rampant in Bangladesh, the abundance of illegally procured construction permits and the lax attitude factory owners take toward safety standards.



What’s Best For The Jews: Agencies Split Over Assad Vs. Rebels Options

So far, everyone agrees that the ongoing civil war has been a bonanza for Israeli security concerns.

By: Yori Yanover

There appear to be sharp disputes among Israel’s intelligence agencies, over the best outcome of the two-year Syrian civil war. Against the background of a public debate about whether the Red Line has been crossed by the Syrian government, which likely attacked its own civilians using chemical weapons, Israel’s government experts are differing in their assessments of whose victory would better serve the Jewish state’s security interests: the Assad regime in Damascus or the rebels.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assembled, for the first time since the start of his current coalition government, the Security Cabinet, to discuss the situation in Syria and the Israeli response to recent developments, Maariv reported.

Israeli intelligence agencies are split on how to act regarding Syria. One organization believes that the focus should be kept on the Iranian nuclear issue, and, therefore, if the Assad regime collapses, the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis would absorb a mortal blow, thus improving Israel’s ability to handle the nuclear threat.

One of the factors delaying an Israeli raid on the Iranian nuclear facilities—certainly not the only one—is the probability that Iran’s clients, Syria and especially Hezbollah, would retaliate, peppering Israel’s civilian centers with the estimated 50 thousand short- and medium-range missiles Hezbollah has in its possession. With Syria turning anti-Iranian—the rebels are Sunni, Iran is Shiite—and with a consequently embattled—also Shiite— Hezbolla, The likelihood of a retaliation would diminish.

But another intelligence agency’s evaluation focuses on the border between Syria and Israel, and away from the Iranian strategic threat. It is estimated that removing Assad would create chaos and the disintegration of the central government, and as rebel groups then settle on the Syrian-Israeli they are highly likely to initiate attacks against Israel. Therefore, this agency recommends, the best course of action is to allow, and whenever possible even encourage the warring parties in Syria to continue to wear each other down over time.



Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Signs Bill Banning Destruction Of Guns Surrendered At Buyback Events

Source: Associated Press

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a bill into law that bars cities and counties from destroying guns turned over to police at community buyback events and instead requiring that they be resold.

The bill signed Monday was supported by Republicans and the National Rifle Association and opposed by Democrats.

Backers in the GOP-controlled Legislature argued that destroying any property turned over to the government is a waste of taxpayer resources.

Democrats argued that destroying the guns keep weapons owners no longer want off the streets.

Read more: http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/f09ec71c9441492896d4a1d609bac628/AZ-XGR--Gun-Buybacks

The Real Reason America Can't Make a Nuclear Deal with Iran

The outlines of a nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran have long been obvious: Western recognition of Iran's nuclear rights in return for more intrusive monitoring and verification of Iranian nuclear facilities. With agreement so readily at hand, the Obama administration's refusal to take it is baffling to many international observers. But the reason for American obstinacy becomes clearer when one considers that that the Iranian nuclear issue has at least as much to do with the future of international order as it does with nonproliferation. Conflict over Iran's nuclear program is driven by two different approaches to interpreting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). These approaches, in turn, are rooted in different conceptions of world order.

For those holding that the NPT's three bargains have equal standing -- including the non-Western world, virtually in its entirety -- Tehran's right to enrich is clear. It is clear from the NPT, from the treaty's negotiating history, and from at least a dozen states having developed safeguarded fuel cycle infrastructures potentially able to support weapons programs. On this basis, the diplomatic solution is also clear: recognition of Iran's nuclear rights in exchange for greater transparency.

Those holding that nonproliferation trumps other NPT goals -- America, Britain, France, and Israel -- claim that there is no treaty-based "right" to enrich, and that weapons states and others with nuclear industries should decide which non-weapons states can possess fuel cycle technologies. From these premises, in the early 2000s the George W. Bush administration sought a worldwide ban on transferring fuel cycle technologies to countries not already possessing them. Subsequently, the Obama administration pushed the Nuclear Suppliers' Group to make such transfers conditional on recipients' acceptance of the Additional Protocol to the NPT -- an instrument devised at U.S. instigation in the 1990s to enable more intrusive and proactive inspections in non-weapons states.

Under both Bush and Obama, America has pressed the UN Security Council to adopt resolutions telling Tehran to suspend enrichment, even though it is part of Iran's "inalienable right" to peaceful use of nuclear technology; such resolutions violate UN Charter terms that the Council act "in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations" and "with the present charter." Washington has also defined its preferred diplomatic outcome and, with Britain and France, imposed it on the P5+1: Iran must promptly stop enriching at the near-20 percent level to fuel its sole (and safeguarded) research reactor; it must then follow Security Council calls to cease all enrichment. U.S. officials say Iran might be "allowed" a circumscribed enrichment program, after suspending for a decade or more; London and Paris insist that "zero enrichment" is the only acceptable long-term outcome.



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