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Putin Shows Global Mojo to Russians as U.S. Fumes Over Snowden

Russian President Vladimir Putin is showing his gamesmanship on a global stage by giving his voters what they want with the asylum granted to ex-U.S. contractor Edward Snowden, while leaving the White House flustered.

The decision is backed by almost twice as many Russians as those against it and those who view Snowden’s role as positive outnumber negative assessments three to one. While the case risks derailing U.S.-Russian relations, it gives Putin a chance to rally support at home and deflect attention from his own human-rights record, said Gleb Pavlovsky, a former Kremlin adviser who heads the Effective Policy Foundation in Moscow.

“Domestically, he got what he can,”Pavlovsky said by phone yesterday. “His main propaganda message domestically will be that things are similar everywhere: the CIA and the FBI violate human rights just like everybody else.”

Putin, who used Russia’s oil-powered wealth accumulation to build support for his 13-year rule, is facing an economy that threatens to slide into recession. Over the past two years, he also stared down the biggest opposition rallies since he came to power and has been the target of criticism for cracking down on protest leaders.

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http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-01/putin-shows-global-mojo-to-russians-as-u-s-fumes-over-snowden.html

With Snowden Now Free In Russia, U.S. Has Few Options

WASHINGTON The world’s most closely watched layover ended on Thursday as Russia granted temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, the accused intelligence leaker who’d been holed up in a Moscow airport’s transit lounge since June 23.

The Obama administration, which for weeks had issued only muted criticism of Russia as it implored President Vladimir Putin’s government to “do the right thing,” lashed out at the decision to offer Snowden a haven but didn’t dwell on possible repercussions.

Members of Congress fumed, calling on President Barack Obama to respond firmly. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the affront was a “game changer” for U.S.-Russia relations. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said “Russia has stabbed us in the back” and asked Obama to recommend moving the G-20 economic summit, which is scheduled for next month in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.

But relations with Russia already are so frayed, analysts say, that there’s little the U.S. could do to punish Putin for taking in Snowden, who’s regarded by many here and abroad as a whistleblower for revealing a top-secret government spy program.

As dramatic as Snowden’s revelations are, his hiding out in Russia may not even be the worst snag in bilateral relations, which have deteriorated over the past 18 months and killed Obama’s goal of a “reset.” Other strains include disagreements over Syria, Russia’s freeze on U.S. adoptions of Russian children, and Congress’ approval of a law barring several Russian officials from entering the U.S.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/08/01/4207480/with-snowden-now-free-in-russia.html#storylink=cpy

Democratic Divide Over NSA Could Pose Problem For Obama

By Aaron Blake and Scott Wilson, Thursday, August 1, 8:08 PM

Lost in all the rancor among Republicans over the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs has been this: A similar ideological divide has been exposed in the Democratic Party that could pose even more political difficulties for President Obama.

Several Democrats from the party’s civil liberties wing — the mirror image of the Republicans’ rising libertarian strain — met with Obama and Republican lawmakers Thursday at the White House to discuss concerns about the NSA’s phone data collection program and elements of the administration’s broader surveillance effort.

Among them were Democratic Sens. Mark Udall (Colo.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), the lawmaker who earlier Thursday proposed legislation that would, in addition to other measures, add a privacy and civil liberties advocate to the secret court proceedings when the government requests national security warrants.

Now government lawyers make the case for warrants before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has turned down only 11 of the government’s nearly 34,000 warrant requests over the past three decades.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democratic-divide-over-nsa-could-pose-problem-for-obama/2013/08/01/5d551e6c-fabb-11e2-a369-d1954abcb7e3_story.html

Netanyahu To Arab MKs: You Weren't In Israel Before Us

Arabs were not in Israel before the Jewish people, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asserted early Thursday morning before the Knesset vote on the referendum bill.

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The bill passed in its first reading with 66 MKs in favor and 45 opposed. The legislation reinforces existing law by upgrading it to a Basic Law, which means it would have constitutional status in the eyes of the Supreme Court. The current law requires a referendum on any concession of sovereign territory, in a peace treaty or as a unilateral move. Sovereign territory does not include Judea and Samaria, but it includes all of Jerusalem and any land swaps.

During the debate, MK Mordechai Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) said “the Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel,” and MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) responded: “We were here before you and we’ll be here after you.”

In an unusual move, Netanyahu asked to take the podium and said to Zahalka: “The first part isn’t true, and the second won’t be.”

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http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Netanyahu-to-Arab-MKs-You-werent-in-Israel-before-us-321798

Activists Rally Across Israel, West Bank Against Plans To Relocate Beduin


Some 20 Israeli-Arab activists arrested as demonstrations take place nationwide against Prawer-Begin plan, IDF evacuation of 1,300 homes in South Hebron Hills; demonstration south of Rahat draws one thousand people.

08/01/2013 22:25

Two police officers were lightly injured and 20 Israeli Arabs were arrested in a Wadi Arra demonstration on Thursday that was part of a day of rage against Israeli plans to relocate Beduin.

While the demonstrations were mostly geared toward the Prawer-Begin plan to relocate at 40,000 Beduin in the Negev, activists who participated also protested against an IDF plan to evacuate 1,300 homes in the South Hebron Hills from an area known as Firing Zone 918.

The largest demonstration at the Lahavim junction south of Rahat drew 1,000 people. Other demonstrations took place in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron and Gaza. According to activists rallied also occurred in Amman, Beirut, Morocco, Mauritania, Amsterdam, Dublin, Washington DC and Brazil.

Most of the demonstrations passed peacefully, according to police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld. But the Wadi Arra demonstration turned violent after protesters tried to block the road, he said.

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http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Activists-rally-across-Israel-West-Bank-against-plans-to-relocate-Beduin-321838

Knesset Approves Bill That Could Push Arab Parties Out

During the last session of the Knesset before its summer recess, the coalition was able to pass a first reading of the “governance legislation,” – an amendment to Israel’s Basic Laws – which would make it more difficult for the opposition to topple the government and for smaller fractions to enter the Knesset. Those who will be most hurt by these amendments are the parties representing the Palestinian public – Balad, Hadash and Raam-Ta’al. The legislation, which could see all of those parties eliminated in the next elections, is considered a major step in the attempt to limit Palestinian representation in Israeli politics.

After the bill was approved in its first reading Wednesday night, Arab Knesset members and several left-wing MKs protested it by standing in silence on the Knesset podium. A unique moment took place when ultra-Orthodox Knesset member Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism) made a short statement against “the persecution of the Arab and the ultra-Orthodox by the government.” Eichler ended his words in Arabic – “we are with you in your struggle for democracy” (video below, 1:14 and then again 1:31 min) – before using the rest of his time to join the silent protest.

Both Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, are now part of the opposition.

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The new legislation is a joint initiative of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu. According to an amendment to the Basic Law on Government (one of several laws which are the Israeli equivalent of a constitution, and can only be changed by an absolute majority), the government will not fall following a no-confidence vote, unless a new collation is presented within three weeks. The government will also stay in power even when it cannot pass a budget (today, such an event leads to new elections).

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http://972mag.com/knesset-approves-bill-that-could-push-arab-parties-out/76755/

A Colonial Addiction: The Twisted Logic Of The Netanyahu Government

Charlton Heston has been on my mind recently.

That famous call during the NRA conference in 2000 after Columbine, “From my cold dead hands,” has been swirling around my head lately.

Why? Because it reminds me of Benjamin Netanyahu. But in my head Bibi isn’t holding a rifle. He’s holding a hammer. A builder’s hammer. To keep on building. At any price.

Heston and the NRA couldn’t care less about the lost lives of innocent people. The right to bear arms is above all. Protecting it as will continue at any cost.

When Bibi promised his coalition partners from the right wing to continue building in the settlements so they wouldn’t go ballistic after releasing over 100 Palestinian prisoners, he proved his addiction to the colonial project. The colonial project is above all. Colonizing will continue at any cost.

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http://972mag.com/a-colonial-addiction-the-twisted-logic-of-the-netanyahu-government/76838/

Chuck Schumer Is Furious At Vladimir Putin For 'Stabbing Us In The Back' Over 'Coward' Snowden

Source: Business Insider

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused Russia on Thursday of "stabbing us in the back" by granting one-year asylum to National Security Agency leak source Edward Snowden, and he urged President Barack Obama to recommend moving the G-20 summit scheduled to take place in Russia this September.
"Russia has stabbed us in the back, and each day that Mr. Snowden is allowed to roam free is another twist of the knife," Schumer said in a scathing statement.

He went on to call Snowden a "coward."

"Others who have practiced civil disobedience in the past have stood up and faced the charges because they strongly believed in what they were doing," Schumer said. "Mr. Snowden is a coward who has chosen to run. Given Russia's decision today, the President should recommend moving the G-20 summit."

Schumer's sentiment was perhaps the strongest reaction to the news from Thursday morning. The White House said it was "extremely disappointed" in Russia. Press Secretary Jay Carney suggested that the White House might cancel a trip to Moscow for a different summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but did not specify any change in plans to attend the G-20 summit.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/chuck-schumer-edward-snowden-asylum-vladimir-putin-2013-8

GOP Prepares Bill To Cut Food Stamps By 5 Percent

Source: Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans are preparing legislation that would cut food stamps by as much as $4 billion annually in an effort to downsize a program that many conservatives say has become too bloated in recent years.

A group of Republicans led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has agreed to try to advance the legislation as early as next month. The measure would reduce the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program by as much as 5 percent. House conservatives have urged major cuts as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, has doubled in cost since 2008.

The bill is certain to face strong opposition from the Democratic Senate and President Barack Obama, who have opposed major cuts to the program. They say cuts could drop millions of Americans off the rolls when they are already struggling from the Great Recession.

Reps. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana and Kristi Noem of South Dakota, two Republicans who helped design the bill, said the legislation would find the savings by tightening eligibility standards and imposing new work requirements. It would also likely try to reduce the rolls by requiring drug testing and barring convicted murderers, rapists and pedophiles from receiving food stamps.



Read more: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_FOOD_STAMPS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-08-01-17-12-51

Morsi Supporters Defy Police Warnings To Disperse

The military-backed government offered protection Thursday to supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi who end their two sit-ins _ widely seen as a first step toward dispersing the vigils on opposite sides of Cairo.

But the protesters responded defiantly: "Over our dead bodies!"

The standoff underscored the ongoing political crisis since the armed forces toppled Egypt's first democratically elected leader on July 3: thousands in the streets demanding Morsi's reinstatement, a government unable to exert its authority, and recurrent violence that has killed more than 260 people.

Rights groups, activists and politicians from rival camps, fearful of more bloodshed, tried to ward off any use of force, including a suggestion of putting a human chain around the protest sites.

International pressure grew for the interim government to release Morsi and create a process that includes his Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest political faction, which refuses to deal with the new authorities.

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http://www.newser.com/article/da7td1ho1/ousted-presidents-supporters-snub-offer-of-protection-if-they-end-their-protests.html
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