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Dutch Pension Group Halts Wal-Mart Investments Over Low Wages And Working Conditions

(Reuters) – Dutch pension administrator PGGM Vermogensbeheer B.V. said on Monday it would no longer invest in Wal-Mart Stores Inc , saying the retailer was not willing to discuss its concerns, including possible labor issues in the United States.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, declined to comment.

Wal-Mart “was not prepared” to take concerns about what PGGM called “tense” U.S. labor relations into consideration and its board was not willing to participate in “fruitful dialogues” with shareholders, PGGM said in a statement.

PGGM is a Zeist, Netherlands-based pension administrator focused on pensions of employees of the Dutch healthcare and social work sector. It manages more than 140 billion euros ($182.50 billion) in assets.

PGGM said that it met with Wal-Mart multiple times about the issues of concern. In 2012, it questioned the company about the Wal-Mart de Mexico , or Walmex, bribery scandal, “but these questions were left unanswered,” it said.



Alan Grayson: ‘Callous, Bigoted’ Republicans Put Laws Up For Sale To The Highest Bidder

In a fundraising video uploaded to YouTube on Monday, Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) attacked Republicans as “callous bigoted tools” who served only themselves and the rich.

“They have no interest whatsoever in anything but personal advancement, and the means by which they advance are to sell-out, to carve the law up into little pieces and put it up for sale to the highest bidder,” he said. “That’s the reality of the situation.”

However, Grayson acknowledged there existed a “small number” of principled Republicans with whom he could find common ground. One such Republican was former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who he worked together with on legislation to audit the Federal Reserve.

Grayson made it clear that working with Republican was not a primary concern of his. He said the people of his congressional district deserved a “gladiator” who would fight for justice, equality and peace — either with Republicans or without them.

“I feel disgust towards many of these people,” Grayson said of his fellow lawmakers. “Frankly, not only the Republicans. There are so many people who show no responsibility at all to the 700,000 people who elected them, sent them to Congress and are looking for them to do something useful for them in their lives.”



Top US Military Officer Calls Egyptian Counterpart


WASHINGTON: General Martin Dempsey, the top US military officer, called the chief of staff of Egypt's armed forces on Monday morning, a US defense official told Reuters, without providing details on the conversation.

The call by Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Egypt's Sedki Sobhi came the same day that Egypt's armed forces handed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi a virtual ultimatum to share power.

Egypt's military gave feuding politicians 48 hours to compromise or have the army impose its own road map for the country.

The United States has close ties with Egypt's armed forces, providing $1.3 billion a year to the country in military aid. The Pentagon declined to speculate on the Egyptian statement earlier on Monday and what it meant for the country's future.

Read more: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Top-US-military-officer-calls-Egyptian-counterpart/articleshow/20868249.cms

Snowden: Obama Using "Citizenship As A Weapon"

By JESSICA HARTOGS / CBS NEWS/ July 1, 2013, 6:43 PM

In his first statement since he left Hong Kong a week ago, former government contractor Edward Snowden says he has left the country after, "It became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth."

The American analyst-turned-leaker is currently believed to still be at Moscow's international airport, where he is believed to have applied for political asylum to remain in Russia.

In his statement, released Monday by Wikileaks, Snowden accuses President Obama of ordering Vice-President Biden to pressure country leaders to deny his asylum petitions.

Snowden alleges that the Obama administration is using, "citizenship as a weapon."

"Although I am convicted of nothing," Snowden writes, "It has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum."



Obama Praises Bush Before Historic Meeting in Tanzania

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania – This is unprecedented: two U.S. presidents will make a joint public appearance in Africa Tuesday.

Former President George W. Bush will join President Obama in the morning at a wreath-laying ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to honor the victims of the 1998 bombing there, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today.

Obama told reporters Monday that George W. Bush deserves “enormous credit” for his foreign policy aid programs, like PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
“This is one of his crowning achievements,” Obama told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl.

“Because of the commitment of the Bush administration and the American people, millions of people’s lives have been saved.

“There has been some suggestion that somehow, we’ve reduced our commitment there. The fact of the matter is, is that we are serving four times the number of people today than we were when PEPFAR first began. But because we’ve gotten better at it and more efficient at it, we’re doing it at reduced cost,” he added.



Obama Suggests Spying On Nations' Allies Is Common

Source: Associated Press

1 hour ago • Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama brushed aside sharp European criticism on Monday, suggesting that all nations spy on each other as the French and Germans expressed outrage over alleged U.S. eavesdropping on European Union diplomats. American analyst-turned-leaker Edward Snowden, believed to still be at Moscow's international airport, applied for political asylum to remain in Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a statement he acknowledged sounded odd, told reporters in Moscow that Snowden would have to stop leaking U.S. secrets if he wanted asylum in Russia - and he added that Snowden seemed unwilling to stop publishing leaks of classified material. At the same time, Putin said that he had no plans to turn over Snowden to the United States.

Obama, in an African news conference with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, said the U.S. would provide allies with information about new reports that the National Security Agency had bugged EU offices in Washington, New York and Brussels. But he also suggested such activity by governments would hardly be unusual.

"We should stipulate that every intelligence service -not just ours, but every European intelligence service, every Asian intelligence service, wherever there's an intelligence service - here's one thing that they're going to be doing: They're going to be trying to understand the world better, and what's going on in world capitals around the world," he said. "If that weren't the case, then there'd be no use for an intelligence service."

Read more: http://dailyjournalonline.com/news/tech/putin-snowden-must-stop-leaking-secrets-to-stay/article_7667dcba-ff45-5295-962c-4134d199e88d.html

Ex-Stasi Boss Green With Envy Over NSA's Domestic Spy Powers

For Wolfgang Schmidt, who used to head East Germany's feared spy service, the NSA's reported spy program "would have been a dream come true."

by Charles Cooper June 28, 2013

For Wolfgang Schmidt, it was just bad luck that he was 20 years too late and living on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain.

As a former top spook in his nation's security bureaucracy, Wolfe also weighed into the domestic debate about whether the NSA has crossed any lines. Privacy advocates have expressed concerns about whether the agency went beyond collecting phone and Internet metadata and snooped on Americans' domestic communications.

For Schmidt, who recalled that during the Trabant era, the Stasi could only tap 40 phones at a time. Reading the seemingly daily disclosures about the NSA, he says there's little doubt about what's going on behind closed doors.

"It is the height of naivete to think that once collected this information won't be used," he said. "This is the nature of secret government organizations. The only way to protect the people's privacy is not to allow the government to collect their information in the first place."



Israel’s Apathetic Hunt For 'Price Tag' Attackers

Israel’s extensive security apparatus has been deployed to remarkable effect against Palestinian terrorists, so why haven’t the 'price-tag' thugs been brought in? The answers don’t do us much credit.

By Don Futterman | Jul.01, 2013

"Price-tag" attacks have swept through the Jerusalem area this June, leaving the Arab neighborhoods and villages of Sheikh Jarrah, Beit Hanina and Abu Ghosh defaced by racist graffiti, vandalized tombstones and torched vehicles. Of these, Abu Ghosh has a special place in Israeli consciousness, the village having sided with the Jews ever since the War of Independence. This incident brought out the big guns: a denunciation from the prime minister and a solidarity delegation led by President Shimon Peres.

Only a day earlier, the government decided not to term "price tag" attacks as acts of terror, designating perpetrators instead as members of an illegal organization, which supposedly would grant the police additional powers to combat the phenomenon. But this was glitter to dazzle apathetic Knesset members. Price tag thugs do not necessarily belong to any organization, and our security forces have always had the means to stop these attacks; what they lack is the will and the political backing.

The "price tag" campaign began a few years ago in the West Bank. Each time the army would act to remove an illegal outpost, or when plans of such an operation became known, settler extremists would make sure that some Palestinians somewhere would “pay the price.” The villages or individuals appeared to be targeted at random, with no clear connection to the outpost in question, thus adding to the sense of unpredictability. The campaign has escalated over the past two-and-a-half years to include actions against an IDF base, a growing number of attacks on private property, churches and mosques within and outside Arab villages, within the Green Line or in East Jerusalem, and assaults on Jewish-Israeli critics of the occupation, such as activists from Peace Now.

"Price tag" incidents are sometimes dismissed as vandalism, but they have gone far beyond graffiti and slashed tires; there have been harsh beatings and the torching of holy sites. The level of violence and victimization may be far from the mass murder of suicide bombings and shootings, but it would be disingenuous to minimize the feeling of victims that they are being terrorized – and this is clearly the intention of the assailants.



Growing Alarm: German Prosecutors to Review Allegations of US Spying

Germany's Federal Prosecutors' Office confirmed to SPIEGEL on Sunday that it is looking into whether systematic data spying against the country conducted by America's National Security Agency violated laws aimed at protecting German citizens.

A spokeswoman at the Federal Prosecutors' Office, which is responsible for domestic security issues, told SPIEGEL that all available and relevant information about the Prism, Tempora and Boundless Informant spying programs is currently being reviewed by the agency. The spokeswoman said the office was seeking to form a reliable understanding of the facts. However, the agency has not indicated when or if it will launch a formal investigation.

Nevertheless, the spokeswoman said that "criminal complaints" relating to the scandal appear "likely". One criminal complaint has already been filed in Germany. SPIEGEL has learned that a provision was used at the local public prosecutor's office in the city of Giessen to lodge a criminal complaint against an unknown perpetrator over the spying.



U.S. Working To Help Guarantee Israel’s Security To Restart Peace Talks, Officials Say

“The rationale behind reaching understandings on U.S. security guarantees at this point is to render certain Israeli security demands from the Palestinians moot and thus remove them from the negotiating table,” one person briefed on the effort said. The account was provided to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity because Allen’s meetings were confidential.

Allen’s team was dismayed by the initial Israeli discussions, which participants described as less substantive and less cooperative than U.S. officials were expecting, given that Allen’s job was created to address Israeli security concerns.

A $10 billion U.S. arms package for Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced this year is primarily aimed at countering potential threats from Iran. But its guarantee that Israel will maintain and expand its military edge over even Arab neighbors that are close U.S. partners is a model for a potential future arrangement balancing Israeli and Palestinian concerns, the senior U.S. official said.

The package deal announced by Hagel during a Middle East trip in April includes advanced missiles, refueling tankers and advanced radar for Israeli warplanes. The United States would also provide V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft for Israel that can be used for land and sea border patrol.


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