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HeadlinesJune 24, 2013

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Edward Snowden Flees Hong Kong for Russia; U.S. Files Espionage Charges

Jun 24, 2013

The exact whereabouts of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden are unknown after he reportedly left Hong Kong and landed in Moscow on Sunday. His flight came just days after the United States publicly revealed it had filed espionage charges against Snowden for revealing the Obama administration’s sweeping domestic spy program. He was expected to fly from Moscow to Cuba today, but was reportedly not on board his flight.

Ecuador Considers Asylum Bid from Snowden

Jun 24, 2013

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño confirmed Ecuador is considering an asylum request from Snowden.

Ricardo Patiño: “Let us end speculation. We will make the decision in time. We are analyzing it with a lot of responsibility and taking good care of it. Because it has to do with the freedom of expression, with the security of citizens around the world, we have to analyze it deeply and also with confidentiality of communications.”

The United States has revoked Snowden’s passport and asked Russia to expel him.

Hong Kong Allows Snowden’s Departure, Seeks Info on U.S. Hacking

Jun 24, 2013

Hong Kong allowed Snowden to leave despite a request by the United States to arrest him, saying documents submitted by the United States did not “fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law” and it had no legal basis to prevent him leaving. The Hong Kong government also said it wanted more information about alleged U.S. hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong. Over the weekend, the South China Morning Post published new revelations by Snowden about how the United States hacked China’s mobile-phone companies and two universities.

WikiLeaks Aids Snowden’s Travels

Jun 24, 2013

The website WikiLeaks is assisting NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in his travels. A WikiLeaks activist named Sarah Harrison reportedly accompanied Snowden on his flight from Hong Kong to Russia.

Nancy Pelosi Booed at Conference for Saying Snowden Broke the Law

Jun 24, 2013

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was challenged over her criticism of Edward Snowden and defense of the Obama administration’s surveillance policies during the Netroots Nation conference in California. As she spoke about the need to balance security with privacy rights, activist Marc Perkel interrupted, shouting, “It’s not a balance! It makes us less safe!” Pelosi was later booed when she mentioned Snowden.

Nancy Pelosi: “As far as Snowden, he did — you know, I may be in disagreement with you. He did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents. We don’t know” —

Audience members: “Boo! Boo!”

Nancy Pelosi: “I understand. I understand.”

Audience members: “Boo! Boo!”

Nancy Pelosi: “I understand. But it did violate the law. And the fact is — and the fact is that, again, we have to have the balance between — between security and privacy.”

Pakistan: Gunmen Kill 11 at Mountain Camp in Retaliation for U.S. Drone Strike

Jun 24, 2013

In Pakistan, a group of gunmen shot dead 10 foreigners and a Pakistani guide on a mountain-climbing trip in the Himalayas. The Pakistani Taliban took responsibility for the attack, saying it was retaliation for a U.S. drone strike last month that killed Taliban deputy chief Wali ur-Rehman and six other people. The militants disguised themselves in paramilitary police uniforms and kidnapped guides to bring them to the remote camp at the base of Nanga Parbat, one of the world’s highest mountains. They stormed the camp and opened fire, killing a U.S. citizen along with climbers from several other countries including Nepal, Ukraine and China. A spokesperson for the Pakistani Taliban told the Associated Press: “By killing foreigners, we wanted to give a message to the world to play their role in bringing an end to the drone attacks.”

Nelson Mandela in Critical Condition

Jun 24, 2013

Anti-apartheid leader and former South African President Nelson Mandela is in critical condition more than two weeks after being hospitalized with a recurring lung infection. Doctors told President Jacob Zuma Sunday that Mandela’s condition had worsened over the preceding 24 hours. In a statement Monday, Zuma said: “The doctors are doing everything possible to ensure his well-being and comfort.” Mandela is 94.

Israel Launches Air Strikes on Gaza After Rocket Attacks

Jun 24, 2013

Israel has launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip in retaliation for rocket fire from the Palestinian side. The Israeli army said it had targeted weapons storage facilities and a rocket launch site. It said two of the rockets fired from Gaza were intercepted by its missile defense system, Iron Dome, while the others landed in open areas, causing no damage or casualties.

New Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah Resigns

Jun 24, 2013

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has accepted the resignation of his new prime minister less than three weeks after Rami Hamdallah was appointed. Hamdallah was selected to replace the outgoing Salam Fayyad, but reportedly resigned following a conflict over authority related to his deputy prime ministers. The shakeup comes days before Secretary of State John Kerry is due to arrive in the region in a bid to renew peace talks with Israel.

Friends of Syria Group Pledges Military Aid to Rebels

Jun 24, 2013

Arab and Western countries opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have agreed to provide military aid to rebels fighting his regime during a meeting in Doha, Qatar. In a statement, 11 countries in the Friends of Syria group pledged to “provide urgently all the necessary materiel and equipment to the opposition on the ground.” They also condemned the intervention on Assad’s side of fighters from the militant group Hezbollah. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the move at a news conference.

John Kerry: “What is clear is that every country committed today to step up what it is doing in direct response to what has happened on the ground, and also what is different is that this is now in response to what Iran and Hezbollah are doing.”

Fierce fighting raged over the weekend in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo and capital, Damascus.

15 Lebanese Soldiers Killed in Conflict Linked to Syria Violence

Jun 24, 2013

In the latest sign the Syrian conflict has spread beyond Syria, 15 Lebanese soldiers were reportedly killed in clashes between the military and followers of a Sunni cleric. The cleric, Ahmed al-Assir, is opposed to Hezbollah and the Assad government.

Future of Afghan Peace Talks Uncertain as Taliban Flag, Sign Removed from Qatar Office

Jun 24, 2013

A Taliban flag and controversial sign that caused the Afghan government to boycott the U.S.-led peace process have been removed from the Taliban’s political office in Qatar. The sign read “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the name used by the Taliban government that formerly ran Afghanistan. The Afghan government had demanded its removal and a full explanation in exchange for sending a delegation to Qatar.

Texas: Hundreds Flood Capitol as Lawmakers Back Sweeping Anti-Abortion Bill

Jun 24, 2013

Texas state lawmakers have given preliminary approval to some of the country’s strictest anti-abortion restrictions. Hundreds of pro-choice supporters, many wearing orange T-shirts reading “Stand With Texas Women,” packed into the Texas capitol building into the early hours of Monday morning as Democrats sought to block Senate Bill 5. Critics say it will shut down 37 out of 42 abortion clinics in Texas, leaving just five clinics across the entire state. The bill would ban abortion after 20 weeks, place restrictions on the pill form of abortion, require providers to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital and force clinics to make costly upgrades in order to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers. During hours of heated debate over the bill, Democratic State Rep. Senfronia Thompson displayed a wire coathanger, a symbol of the potentially fatal practices used when safe abortion is illegal or inaccessible, asking her colleagues: “Do you want to return back to the coathanger?”

Wisconsin: 8 Arrested for Protesting Anti-Abortion Bill

Jun 24, 2013

The vote in Texas comes after eight people were arrested in Wisconsin last week for attempting to enter the state Senate chambers to protest a bill requiring women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound and have the ultrasound image described to them. The protesters had earlier attempted to deliver coathangers to lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker, who has vowed to sign the bill.

Turkish Prime Minister Defends Police Crackdown on Protesters

Jun 24, 2013

In Turkey, police used water cannons and tear gas against thousands of protesters who gathered in Istanbul’s Taksim Square over the weekend to remember those killed in earlier clashes. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan defended the police actions before a crowd of his supporters.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan: “Yesterday, they once again attempted to occupy the square. Police showed patience until some point. They made a series of warnings, but when the crowd refused to leave, the police had to disperse them.”

Sunday’s pro-government rally was the latest of several called by Erdogan amid weeks of anti-government protests that began with objections to the razing of an Istanbul park. Protests also continued in the capital Ankara, where police used water cannons and tear gas Saturday night.

Brazil: Tens of Thousands Continue to Rally Nationwide

Jun 24, 2013

Protests are continuing in Brazil after more than a million people marched in historic demonstrations last week. Tens of thousands took to the streets across Brazil over the weekend as part of a sweeping nationwide movement against government corruption, inequality, failing public services, police brutality and government spending on the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Brazil is currently hosting the Confederations Cup soccer tournament, seen as a precursor to the World Cup.

Italian Workers March Against Record Unemployment, Austerity

Jun 24, 2013

Roughly 100,000 people marched in Rome, Italy, on Saturday to protest crippling austerity measures and soaring unemployment during a rally organized by Italy’s three largest union groups. Unemployment in Italy recently hit a record high of 12 percent; more than 40 percent of people under age 24 are jobless. Union leaders and workers demanded action from the government.

Susanna Camusso, secretary general of CGIL union: “We are here this morning to say that our country needs fast answers to allow us to get over this crisis.”

Francesca Di Felice, worker: “Finally, we have found a way to be united on all the fundamental issues, those of reforms, work, violence against women, and to battle together on this.”

Guantánamo Prisoner: Obama Admin “Doing Everything They Can” to Break Hunger Strike

Jun 24, 2013

A Guantánamo prisoner says the Obama administraton has become increasingly brutal in its attempts to break a hunger strike by more than 100 of Guantánamo’s 166 prisoners. Shaker Aamer, a British resident who has been cleared for release from Guantánamo twice in the past six years, told the head of the legal charity Reprieve prison authorities are making cells “freezing cold” and employing metal-tipped feeding tubes that cause prisoners to vomit during twice-daily force-feedings. In the interview, obtained by The Observer newspaper, Aamer said one prisoner had a tube pushed into his lungs instead of his stomach, causing him to cough blood. He said: “The administration is getting ever more angry and doing everything they can to break our hunger strike. Honestly, I wish I was dead.” Aamer has spent more than 11 years without trial inside Guantánamo.

Report: Wal-Mart Workers Fired After Launching Strike

Jun 24, 2013

Wal-Mart workers who went on strike to demand better pay and union rights say the company is now retaliating against them. Five workers were reportedly fired and 11 subjected to other disciplinary measures after striking and traveling to the company’s headquarters in Arkansas earlier this month. At least one of the workers was reportedly told the firing was in direct response to the strike.

Opening Statements Begin in George Zimmerman Trial

Jun 24, 2013

Opening statements begin today in the murder trial of George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot and killed unarmed African-American teenager Trayvon Martin last year. Zimmerman will face a jury of six women, five of them white. He could face up to life in prison on charges of second-degree murder.

Food Network Drops Paula Deen’s Show Following Racism Scandal

Jun 24, 2013

The Food Network has announced it’s canceling celebrity chef Paula Deen’s TV program after she admitted using racial slurs. Deen has apologized for the behavior, which came to light as part of a lawsuit brought by a former manager of a restaurant owned by Deen and her brother. The worker said employees were subjected to sexual harassment and racist comments. Deen has also admitted she considered planning a “plantation-style” wedding for her brother by hiring all-black waiters.

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