Egypt’s military has issued a 48-hour deadline for President Mohamed Morsi to yield to the demands of the Egyptian people amid mass protests aimed at forcing him from office. The head of Egypt’s armed forces, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, issued the ultimatum on Monday.
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi: “The armed forces warns everyone, if the demands of the people are not met within the ultimatum given, it will find it mandatory upon itself, in accordance to its historic and national responsibilities, and in respect to the demands of the great Egyptian people, to announce a road map and procedures, overseen by the military, that will include all groups, including the youth, who were and are still behind their blessed revolution.”
It is unclear exactly what role the military would take or what action it expects from President Morsi before the Wednesday deadline. Morsi has rejected the ultimatum, saying he will pursue his own path to reconciliation. A Morsi aide said the army’s statement was tantamount to a military coup. The government has seen a number of high-profile resignations as millions have taken to the streets to call for Morsi’s exit. The Egypt Independent reports two presidential spokesmen have resigned and says Prime Minister Hesham Qandil has offered his Cabinet resignation, but Morsi has yet to accept it. President Obama reportedly called President Morsi Monday night in part to confirm the United States still recognizes him as the democratically elected leader of Egypt.
In the Afghan capital, Kabul, at least 11 people were killed today in a suicide bomb and gun attack on a company supplying the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Kabul’s police chief said the dead included four Nepali guards, an Afghan guard and two Afghan civilians, as well as four insurgents.
National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has issued his first public message since arriving at a Moscow airport more than a week ago. In a statement posted on the WikiLeaks website, Snowden condemned the Obama administration for revoking his passport and pressuring foreign governments to reject his bids for asylum. He compared himself to former NSA official Thomas Drake and U.S. Army private Bradley Manning, writing: “In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.” Snowden added, “I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed by the efforts taken by so many.”
WikiLeaks says its legal adviser, Sarah Harrison, has submitted asylum petitions on Snowden’s behalf to 21 countries, including China, Cuba, India, Brazil and a number of others in Latin America and Europe. But Snowden has reportedly withdrawn his request for asylum in Russia after President Vladimir Putin said he could only stay there if he stopped leaking information harmful to the United States.
President Vladimir Putin: “If he wants to go anywhere and someone will accept him, he is welcome. If he wishes to stay here, then we have one condition: He must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners — although it sounds very strange coming from me. He positions himself as a fighter for human rights, and he is not going to stop this activity, so he has to choose the country for himself and go to it. When it will happen, I unfortunately do not know. If I knew, I would tell you.”
Putin also dismissed the idea Russia might comply with U.S. requests to extradite Snowden, saying, “Russia never hands anybody over anywhere and doesn’t intend to do so.” Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa repeated Monday that Snowden’s fate is in Russia’s hands. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said he has not received Snowden’s asylum application yet, but that Snowden “deserves the world’s protection.” Poland’s foreign minister says he would not recommend granting Snowden’s request for asylum.
President Obama has continued to face fallout from Edward Snowden’s latest revelations to Der Spiegel newspaper about U.S. spying on Europeans. Speaking during his visit to Tanzania, Obama said the United States would provide its allies with more information about reports the National Security Agency bugged European Union offices in Washington, New York and Brussels. The revelations have angered European leaders and threatened to derail trade negotiations. Obama shrugged off the criticism, suggesting such spying is common.
President Obama: “I guarantee you that in European capitals, there are people who are interested in, if not what I had for breakfast, at least what my talking points might be should I end up meeting with their leaders. That’s how intelligence services operate.”
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has reportedly admitted making incorrect statements about sweeping National Security Agency spying. At a congressional hearing in March, Clapper was asked whether the NSA collected data on millions of Americans. He replied, “No.” When pressed, he added, “Not wittingly.” But according to The Washington Post, Clapper sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee last month saying he misunderstood the question. “I have thought long and hard to re-create what went through my mind at the time,” Clapper wrote. “My response was clearly erroneous — for which I apologize.”
U.S. government prosecutors have begun wrapping up their case against Army whistleblower Bradley Manning as his court-martial entered its fifth week at Fort Meade, Maryland. On Monday, prosecutors sought to firm up claims Manning “aided the enemy” by knowingly and maliciously handing over documents that would be used by al-Qaeda. A military judge allowed prosecutors to present a WikiLeaks list of “most wanted” documents in support of that claim, which could carry a life sentence. Manning has said he gave the classified material to WikiLeaks in order to expose the U.S. military’s disregard for human life and spark a domestic debate about U.S. foreign policy.
On Sunday, more than 1,000 people joined a contingent in support of Bradley Manning at San Francisco’s LGBT Pride Parade. Supporters dubbed Manning a “community grand marshal” after the event’s board refused to let him be an official grand marshal. The activists danced and marched behind a massive, rainbow-colored banner that read, “Pride in our whistleblowers.”
Human Rights Watch reports border guards in Iraq, Jordan and Turkey are rejecting tens of thousands of refugees attempting to flee the conflict in Syria. The groups says only Lebanon is keeping its border with Syria open, while Syria’s other neighbors are either rejecting refugees outright or allowing only a limited number in, leaving many stranded at the border. Turkey has rejected the accusations, saying it is currently hosting more than 200,000 Syrians in refugee camps. The report comes amid reports of a government siege on the central city of Homs and of the killing of a Syrian Roman Catholic priest by rebels in the north.
Thousands of pro-choice advocates descended on the Texas Capitol Monday to protest Republican attempts to revive legislation which would shut down nearly all of the state’s abortion clinics and ban abortion 20 weeks after fertilization. Building off momentum from the “people’s filibuster,” an estimated 5,000 people gathered to cheer State Senator Wendy Davis, who stood for roughly 13 hours in a row last week as protesters and lawmakers shut down the bill.
Wendy Davis: “Now, I know a great number of us have felt discouraged about the current state of affairs here. Some of us have felt mad. Today is different, though. Don’t you feel it? We feel hope, opportunity to be inspired by each other’s actions in our democracy. And we’ve witnessed how much we can accomplish when we reclaim our power and require accountability.”
Protesters are expected to gather again today as a Texas House committee takes up the anti-choice bill. The full Texas House and Senate are not expected to meet again until next Tuesday.
The interest rate for federally subsidized student loans has doubled after Congress failed to reach a deal to avoid the hike. The interest rate on Stafford loans rose to 6.8 percent Monday when a temporary freeze expired. Lawmakers will still have a chance to reach a deal on student debt before the next school year. Student loan debt in the United States stands at nearly $1 trillion after roughly quadrupling over the past decade.
Two top managers at the Vatican bank have resigned amid a growing financial scandal. The resignation of former bank director Paolo Cipriani and his deputy came just three days after a senior Vatican accountant was arrested. The accountant, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, is accused of conspiring to smuggle $26 million into Italy from Switzerland.
Lawyers for a group of Guantánamo prisoners have filed a lawsuit to stop the force-feeding of hunger strikers at the prison, calling it a “grotesque” practice that violates human rights. The U.S. military has acknowledged 106 out of 166 prisoners are on hunger strike; 44 are being force-fed by tubes forced into their nostrils and then down into their stomachs. Lawyers are particularly concerned the Muslim prisoners might be force-fed during the upcoming holy month of Ramadan in violation of religious practices.
More details have emerged on last year’s suicide of Guantánamo Prisoner Adnan Latif. A military probe has concluded Latif overdosed on anti-psychotic medication that he hoarded over a lengthy period until he had enough to end his life. Nine different narcotics were found inside his body. Latif was a Yemeni national who attempted suicide multiple times since his imprisonment over a decade ago. He was at least the ninth foreign prisoner to die at Guantánamo since the United States began jailing foreigners there in 2002, seven by suicide. Latif had remained at Guantánamo despite being cleared for release several times. One of Latif’s attorneys, David Remes, said, “He was clearly not a security risk, and if he had been released, he would still be alive today.”
The former U.S.-backed dictator of Chad has been detained in Senegal and could face charges of crimes against humanity more than 20 years after his ouster in a military coup. Hissène Habré ruled Chad from 1982 to 1990 before fleeing to Senegal. He has been accused of overseeing the torture and slaughter of tens of thousands of people from rival ethnic groups. Habré’s trial would mark the first time an African leader has faced trial for human rights violations in another African country. A coordinator for the legal team representing his alleged victims spoke on Monday.
Assane Dioma Ndiaye: “There is definitely a feeling of relief, especially when thinking about the thousands of victims who fought for more than 20 years to have the right for their grievances to be heard and who will finally see their dreams realized. The day they have been waiting for is finally here.”
Hyatt Hotels and the union UNITE HERE have reached an agreement to end a four-year fight that sparked a global boycott of the hotel chain. If ratified by workers, the new contracts would give thousands of employees retroactive wage increases and maintain their healthcare and pension benefits until 2018. The deal includes a process for hotel workers at a number of locations to vote on unionization. The Hyatt chain was founded by the family of billionaire Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. Its alleged abuse of workers cast a shadow over Pritzker’s nomination but did not stop her confirmation last week.
More than 80 people were arrested during the ninth weekly “Moral Monday” protest called by the NAACP to protest the agenda of North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature. A major focus of this week’s protest was the loss of unemployment benefits to 70,000 people in North Carolina which has just gone into effect. North Carolina became the first state in the country to disqualify its residents from the aid. Another 100,000 unemployed people in North Carolina are expected to lose benefits in the coming months.
In California, transit workers have entered the second day of a strike that has halted Bay Area commuter trains for the first time in 16 years. The strike was called after talks failed to produce an agreement before contracts expired.
The newspaper company Tribune will pay nearly $3 billion to purchase 19 local television stations, giving it one of the largest holdings of local TV affiliates in the country. Tribune, which owns the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, has been seeking to sell off its newspapers since emerging from bankruptcy in recent months. The deal comes just weeks after USA Today publisher Gannett nearly doubled its local TV holdings by purchasing 20 stations.