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Russia, China reject U.S. pressure over Snowden

By Thomas Grove and Steve Gutterman
MOSCOW (Reuters) - China and Russia rejected U.S. accusations they helped a former U.S. spy agency contractor escape prosecution in the United States, deepening a rift between powers whose cooperation may be essential in settling global conflicts including the Syrian war.
Despite public outrage, however, there was a sense moscow and Washington sought to limit damage over Edward Snowden, whose flight from justice has embarrassed President Barack Obama. After tough U.S. statements a day earlier, Secretary of State John Kerry urged "calm and reasonableness" on Tuesday.
Snowden, charged with disclosing secret U.S. surveillance programmes, left Hong Kong for Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday. The U.S. State Department said diplomats and Justice Department officials were talking to Russia, suggesting they sought a deal to secure his return to face espionage charges.
An airport source said the 30-year-old American, who has asked for asylum in Ecuador, had flown in on Sunday and had been booked on a flight to Cuba on Monday but had not got on board.
Journalists camped out at the airport have not spotted him inside, or leaving, the transit area, and say a heavy security presence has been relaxed for the past 24 hours. He has not registered at a hotel in the transit zone, hotel sources say.
A receptionist at the Capsule Hotel "Air Express", a complex of 47 basic rooms furnished predominantly with grey carpets and grey walls, said Snowden had turned up on Sunday, looked at the price list and then left.
U.S. officials admonished Beijing and Moscow on Monday for allowing Snowden to escape their clutches but the United States' partners on the U.N. Security Council, already at odds with Washington over the conflict in Syria, hit back indignantly.
"The United States' criticism of China's central government is baseless. China absolutely cannot accept it," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing, also dismissing U.S. criticism of Hong Kong, a Chinese territory, for letting Snowden leave.
FSB INTEREST?
In the first comment on the affair by a senior Russian officials since Snowden arrived, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied suggestions Moscow had helped Snowden in any way, including by allowing him to fly into Sheremetyevo.
"He chose his itinerary on his own. We learnt about it ... from the media. He has not crossed the Russian border," he said. "We consider the attempts to accuse the Russian side of violating U.S. laws, and practically of involvement in a plot, to be absolutely groundless and unacceptable."
There is growing speculation in the Russian media that Snowden may be talking to the FSB security service, a successor of the Soviet-era KGB, and could be involved in a prisoner swap.
"Lavrov always chooses his words carefully," said a Russian security source. "From his statement you can deduce the following: that he (Snowden) is either outside Russia or still in the transit zone. He is a tasty morsel for any, any secret service, also for ours."
Deputy parliamentary speaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky has proposed Snowden be exchanged for Viktor Bout, a Russian jailed in the United States for drug trafficking, requests for whose extradition have been ignored.
Fallout from a protracted wrangle over Snowden could be far-reaching, as Russia, the United States and China hold veto powers at the U.N. Security Council and their broad agreement could be vital to any settlement in Syria.
International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said on Tuesday he was pessimistic an international conference on Syria could take place in July as hoped and urged Russia and the United States to help contain a conflict which has killed almost 100,000 people.
Kerry said there was no cause to raise tensions over "something that is frankly basic and normal as this."
"It is accurate there is not an extradition treaty between Russia and the United states, but there are standards of behaviour between sovereign nations," he said, in Jeddah.
Lavrov's insistence Snowden had not entered Russia implies he has not left the airport transit area, used by passengers flying from one non-Russian airport to another without going through passport control or requiring an entry visa.
The transit area is Russian sovereign territory, but it could be argued that in staying there Snowden had not formally entered the country - a move that could implicate President Vladimir Putin in helping a fugitive. Russia appears, at least for the moment, reluctant to take such a step.
REFUGEE DOCUMENT
Interfax news agency quoted a source "in the Russian capital" as saying Snowden could be detained to check the validity of his passport if he crossed the Russian border.
Snowden is travelling on a refugee document of passage provided by Ecuador, the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks said.
Snowden, whose exposure of the surveillance raised questions about civil liberties in the United States, flew to Moscow after being allowed to leave Hong Kong even though Washington had asked the Chinese territory to detain him.
Snowden, until recently a contractor with the U.S. National Security Agency, had been expected to fly to Havana from Moscow on Monday and eventually go on to Ecuador, according to sources at the Russian airline Aeroflot.
Pope at Vatican meeting with Jewish delegation slams anti-Semitism

Read more: http://www.jta.org/2013/06/24/news-opini...z2XF1HKMSt
Pope Francis 'snubs' pomp and ceremony of Vatican Beethoven concert
Pope Francis failed to show up at a Vatican concert crowded with cardinals at the weekend, an absence seen as the latest example of his dislike for the Holy See's tradition of pomp and ceremony.

[Image: pope_2598060b.jpg]
vicious home invasion



US whistleblower Snowden 'still in Moscow airport'

announcement
Continue reading the main story
US spy leaks
Desperately seeking Snowden
Profile: Edward Snowden
Q&A: Prism snooping
Beware the humble contractor
Fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden is still in the transit area at Moscow airport, Russia's President Vladimir Putin has confirmed.

"He is a transit passenger in the transit zone and is still there now," he said, adding that the sooner he chose a destination, the better.

A White House spokeswoman said Russia had a "clear legal basis" to expel Mr Snowden.

Venezuela has said it would consider an asylum application from Mr Snowden.

"We say and advocate that someone in the world should stand with this young man and protect him, the revelations he has made with courage serve to change the world," President Nicolas Maduro said.


Venezuela's president defends Snowden
Russia says Mr Snowden has not yet passed through immigration, so technically is not yet under their jurisdiction.

The Russians have rejected American charges that they have assisted Mr Snowden.

China has also rejected similar charges, saying accusations that it allowed him to leave Hong Kong despite a warrant for his arrest were "groundless and unacceptable".

Mr Snowden flew from Hong Kong to Moscow on Sunday. He was expected to board a flight to the Venezuelan capital Caracas on Monday but never appeared.
Snowden asylum request 'could take months'
Ecuadorian authorities say US whistleblower's asylum request could take two months, as he remains in Moscow airport

A decision on whether or not Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who is facing charges of espionage in the US, will be given asylum in Ecuador could take months, officials say.

Richard Patino, the country's foreign minister, said on Wednesday during a state visit to Malaysia that it took two months for the country to make a decision in the case of Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblowing website Wikileaks, and that Snowden's case would take at least as long from the time the request was filed.

Snowden is currently in hiding in the transit area of the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow, the Russian capital.

Also on Wednesday, a senior US politician issued a strong warning to cut ties with Ecuador if that country takes him in.

Robert Menendez, the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that he would seek to end the preferential treatment for goods if the South American nation offers political asylum to Snowden.
http://rt.com/business/moscow-exchange-t...etals-326/

"The stock exchange is going to start trading gold and silver by the end of this year, and platinum and palladium in 2014. Trading physical metals is expected to boost liquidity in the market and attract more participants.

Russia has so far only been trading futures on gold and silver, not dealing with real metals.

Gold has been occasionally sold on the over-the-counter market and the only benchmark for price was the Central bank’s quotations, Gazeta.ru reports. Now gold will get the market price in rubles.

“We are a gold-exporting country. We produce a large number of precious metals. However, the trade volume is still significantly lagging behind our peers. Our commodity market is not transparent," Gazeta.ru quotes the director of the commodity market of the Moscow exchange, Mikhail Orlenko.

Spot metal trading will be based on the platform of the existing foreign exchange market. Credit institutions licensed to conduct operations with precious metals and non-banking professional brokers will be the main players on the market, Gazeta.ru quotes the presentation by the bourse.

The Moscow stock exchange plans to transport precious metals from production companies, keep them in its own stores and deliver to the buyer the next day."
I think there is some disconnect between Physical and paper gold markets at this point
http://truth-out.org/news/item/17295-doe...-in-europe

"Since creditors believe the government stands behind these big banks, they are willing to lend them money at lower interest rates. Bloomberg news estimated the size of this subsidy at $83 billion a year. By comparison, the food stamp program is projected to cost $76 billion this year.

In other words, a few big banks will get a larger subsidy from the government than the tens of millions of people receiving food stamps. In the world of makers and takers, the big banks are industrial-strength takers.

But there are even more benefits to being one of the big banks. Apparently, the Treasury Department is expected to lobby on their behalf in other countries. This is what we are seeing now as 11 countries in the European Union attempt to jointly implement a financial speculation tax. This is part of a popular European effort to raise revenue by cracking down on speculative trading by their major banks.

The tax enjoys overwhelming support from the public in countries like Germany, Italy, and elsewhere in Europe. This is what has pushed their political leadership to support the tax. However, the U.S. Treasury Department seems determined to obstruct the path.

The immediate issue is that U.S. banks want to be exempted from having to pay the tax, and the Treasury Department is pushing their case. First, it is important to understand that no one is trying to single out U.S. banks for punishment under the proposed European tax. The argument by the Europeans is that U.S. banks should be subject to the trading tax in the same way that U.S. citizens are subject to taxes on restaurants and hotels when they eat at a restaurant or stay at a hotel in Europe.

This is important not just because the Europeans are worried about losing a slice of the revenue if the U.S. banks are exempted; they are worried that the tax would be completely undermined. If active speculators in stock or derivatives know that they can evade Europe's tax simply by doing their trades through a subsidiary of a U.S. bank, then all the active traders will conduct their trades through U.S. subsidiaries. The result would be that the frequent traders who were the primary target of the tax would be largely able to escape the tax.

By pushing this line, the Treasury Department is effectively defending the right of U.S. banks to run tax-avoidance schemes against European governments. If Treasury succeeds, it would make the tax pointless.

And that is undoubtedly the objective. If the Treasury Department believed that the tax was simply a case of bad policy, it could send a quick note of advice to their European counterparts and then get on with other business. After all, Europeans make bad decisions all the time without causing government officials in Washington to break a sweat.

However, the European financial speculation tax raises concerns among the US's powerful for a reason quite opposite from fears of bad policy; the folks in Washington are worried that it will succeed. They are worried that the tax will raise large amounts of revenue at the expense of the big financial speculators. This is a classic win-win. The government will have more revenue by reducing speculation that is harmful to financial markets and the larger economy. And since the financial sector produces many of the highest incomes in the economy, a downsized financial sector should also imply less inequality.

So the European speculation tax will lead to a more efficient and stable financial sector, more revenue for governments and less inequality. And the only losers are the big rollers in the financial industry.

Naturally Wall Street would do everything in its power to stop the spread of such taxes; after all, some may want to impose speculation taxes in the United States. For that reason, it is no surprise that Wall Street would try to block the European tax, but does President Obama really have to assist this effort? Can't the millionaires and billionaires on Wall Street for at least once stand on their own two feet? Treasury Secretary Jack Lew should tell Goldman Sachs and Jamie Dimon that they have to hire their own lobbyist if they want to protect their ability to do tax scams in Europe."
Dumbbells, garden rakes used as weapons during massive fight, officials say
Police: At least 3 injured, 2 arrested in fighting involved 75 people

Published On: Jul 01 2013 10:24:18 AM CDT

MADISON, Wis. -

At least three were injured and two were arrested in a fight that involved as many as 75 people on Madison’s west side Friday night, according to a release.

Madison police responded to a fight in progress in the area of Theresa Terrace and Bettys Lane Friday night around 7:30, according to the release.

Officials said an officer in the neighborhood was flagged down by a witness who described a huge fight that was going on a block away.

The officer arrived on scene and reported that dozens of people were fighting in the middle of the street with a variety of weapons from garden rakes to dumbbells, according to the release.

Officials said people were using locks in their hands as brass knuckles and brandishing sticks.

There were three reported female victims, all teenagers from Madison, according to the release. The girls received significant lacerations and broken teeth during the fight.

Officials said two men, Mario J. Scott, 17, of Madison, and Antwon D. Amos, 20, of Sun Prairie, were arrested for their involvement in the fight.

Scott was arrested on charges of substantial battery and disorderly conduct while armed. Amos was arrested on charges of probation violation and carrying a concealed weapon.

The fight is still under investigation and additional arrests are likely as the incident required 24 officers and three ambulance responses, according to the release.
Internet Trolls face jail time in Grenada

(AP) – This tiny Caribbean nation of Grenada will not stand for Internet trolls. The country’s legislators have approved a bill that makes it a crime to offend people through sites such as Facebook and Twitter. According to the bill, the first of its kind in the Caribbean, complaints about offensive comments would be filed with police. A judge would then decide if the message was offensive. Those found guilty could be fined up to $37,000 or face three years in prison.
“We have problems when some use the technology to engage in mischief,” says the island’s Legal Affairs Minister. “We have to put structures in place to ensure that persons and, in some cases, companies and characters are not tarnished.” The measure was approved as part of a broader electronic crimes bill, which also makes it a crime to distribute child pornography, imposing fines of up to $111,000 and a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul...-1m-police

"Victims of excessive police force at one of the most violent flashpoints of the Occupy protests have received a $1m compensation settlement.

The US district court in San Francisco made the award to a group of 12 protesters who complained of brutality during in confrontations with police in Oakland, California, in 2011.

The payouts come in the wake of criticism from independent experts who said the police department was under-resourced and ill-prepared to deal with the protests.

The lawsuits detailed how police reacted to the protesters when they tried to reclaim a camp which had been cleared earlier that day. Suzi Spangenberg and Sukay Sow said they were injured by flashbang grenades thrown by officers. Spangenberg, a 52-year-old seminarian was awarded $500,000 in compensation, while Sow, who suffered chemical burns to her foot, received $210,000.

Spangenberg said on Wednesday: "I was in the middle of telling OPD I loved them when they threw explosives at me. The loud explosion caused permanent hearing loss and unrelenting ringing in my ears. As a result, I can only sleep 2 hours at a time which has had a serious impact on my life, including adversely impacting my graduate school studies, when I graduate, and when I will be ordained."
So 1 guy 'spangenberg' got 500K?

this is coming from taxpayers.
Venezuela offers Snowden asylum

CARACAS, Venezuela — Presidents Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela said Friday they were willing to grant asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Snowden has asked for asylum in several countries, including Nicaragua and Venezuela.

"We have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the American Edward Snowden to protect him from the persecution being unleashed by the world's most powerful empire,'' Maduro said at the start of a military parade in the Venezuelan capital celebrating the 202nd anniversary of the South American country's declaration of independence.

Maduro said Snowden's only crime was to tell the truth.

Maduro said Snowden, who is wanted by the U.S. for leaking information about a number of secret U.S. espionage plans, could live in peace in the free country of (founding father Simon) Bolivar and (the late president Hugo) Chavez.''

In Nicaragua, Ortega said he was willing to make the same offer "if circumstances allow it." Ortega didn't say what the right circumstances would be when he spoke during a speech in Managua.

He said the Nicaraguan embassy in Moscow received Snowden's application for asylum and that it is studying the request.

"We have the sovereign right to help a person who felt remorse after finding out how the United States was using technology to spy on the whole world, and especially its European allies," Ortega said.

Maduro has repeatedly said that the fugitive leakster was being unfairly attacked by the U.S. government. Venezuela under Maduro and Chavez has been one of South America's most strident critics of U.S. policy.

Although the U.S. is the largest supplier of goods to Venezuela and the South American country's largest buyer of its crude, neither country has an ambassador in the other.

The offers came amid the ongoing flap about the rerouting of Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane in Europe earlier this week amid reports that Snowden might have been aboard.

Spain on Friday said it had been warned along with other European countries that Snowden, a former U.S. intelligence worker, was aboard the Bolivian presidential plane, an acknowledgement that the manhunt for the fugitive leaker had something to do with the plane's unexpected diversion to Austria.

It is unclear whether the United States, which has told its European allies that it wants Snowden back, warned Madrid about the Bolivian president's plane. U.S. officials will not detail their conversations with European countries, except to say that they have stated the U.S.'s general position that it wants Snowden back.

President Barack Obama has publicly displayed a relaxed attitude toward Snowden's movements, saying last month that he wouldn't be "scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker."

But the drama surrounding the flight of Bolivian President Evo Morales, whose plane was abruptly rerouted to Vienna after apparently being denied permission to fly over France, suggests that pressure is being applied behind the scenes.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told Spanish National Television that "they told us that the information was clear, that he was inside."

He did not identify who "they" were and declined to say whether he had been in contact with the U.S. But he said that European countries' decisions were based on the tip. France has since sent a letter of apology to the Bolivian government.

Meanwhile, secret-spilling website WikiLeaks said that Snowden, who is still believed to be stuck in a Moscow airport's transit area, had put in asylum applications to six new countries.

The organization said in a message posted to Twitter on Friday that it wouldn't be identifying the countries involved "due to attempted U.S. interference."

A number of countries have already rejected asylum applications from Snowden.
Fuck banks!
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