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Russian Foreign Minister Tells US To Behave 'Like Grown-Ups'

Source: Telegraph UK

Sergei Lavrov chided the US administration two days after President Barack Obama scrapped a summit with Mr Putin when Russia granted asylum to Edward Snowden, the fugitive US spy.

"We need to work as grown-ups," he told a press conference in Washington alongside John Kerry, the US Secretary of State. "This is what we do. And we hope that this will be reciprocal".

Mr Obama reacted furiously this week to Russia's approval of temporary asylum for Mr Snowden, a National Security Agency contractor who gave secret documents to the media.

Accusing Moscow of a "slip back into Cold War thinking", the president pulled out of a planned bilateral meeting with Mr Putin in Moscow before the G20 summit in St Petersburg next month.

Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/10234189/Russian-foreign-minister-tells-US-to-behave-like-grown-ups.html

Yemen Officials Say 7 Saudi Militants Killed Iin Recent Wave Of US Drone Strikes

SANAA, Yemen - At least seven suspected militants from Saudi Arabia were among the alleged al-Qaida members killed in Yemen in a recent wave of U.S. drone strikes, senior Yemeni officials said Friday, suggesting that Saudis are increasingly crossing the border to carry funds or seek terrorist training.

With several U.S. diplomatic posts closed temporarily in Africa and the Middle East this week amid a global alert about terrorism, Washington evacuated most of its personnel from Lahore, Pakistan's second-largest city. The U.S., along with Britain, also flew diplomatic staff out of Yemen's capital of Sanaa this week.

Since July 27, drone attacks in Yemen's southern and central provinces have killed a total of 34 militants suspected of being members of the country's al-Qaida branch, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, security officials have said.

On Thursday alone, the officials said U.S. drones conducted three airstrikes, killing 12 militants.

The drone strikes occurred in areas where the terrorist group enjoys protection from anti-government tribes or hides in mountainous areas.



Snowden Fallout Claims Second Email Service

Silent Circle shuts after Lavabit amid reports US government is attempting to access whistleblower's messages.

Last Modified: 09 Aug 2013 20:25

A second United States email service has shut down amid reports that the US government was attempting to gain access to encrypted messages sent by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

A company named Silent Circle on Friday said it would close its secure email service, hours after Lavabit said it would shut down rather than "become complicit in crimes against the American people".

"We see the writing on the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail," the statement said on Friday, citing the Lavabit decision.

No privacy guarantee

Those six weeks match the period since Snowden leaked information about huge secret electronic spying operations by the US National Security Agency, suggesting the government was trying to access Lavabit's servers and had gagged the company from saying so.

"This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States," Levison wrote.



Russia Acted on Snowden in Line With Law -- Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov

WASHINGTON, Aug 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russia acted strictly in line with Russian law and the country's international obligations in its decision to grant US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden temporary asylum, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said here Friday.

"We acted strictly according to our laws," Lavrov told reporters following talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry and the defense ministers from the two countries.

"We have to be bound by legal obligations rooted in the Russian law and our international obligations," Lavrov said.

Russia prevented Snowden from officially entering the country for five weeks during which he remained in a transit zone after arriving from Hong Kong and landing at an international airport outside the Russian capital. Moscow announced last week that Snowden had been granted asylum for one year in Russia.

The United States has strongly demanded that Russia take action to return Snowden to face justice in his country. Russia said it had no legal justification for complying with that demand but has also said it did want want the disagreement over Snowden's fate to damage its relations with Washington.



Russia Olympic Boycott 'Not Appropriate', Obama Says

Source: RIA Novosti

WASHINGTON, August 9 (RIA Novosti) – US President Barack Obama said Friday he was "offended" by a new Russian law on homosexuality but rejected calls from critics for a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, early next year.

"I do not think it is appropriate to boycott the Olympics," Obama said at a White House news conference, saying such a move would only punish athletes who have worked hard to make it to the Olympic competition.

Obama added however that "nobody's more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation that you've been seeing in Russia."

Russian officials have stressed that the new Russian law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in June, was designed to protect minors from "propaganda" about "non-traditional sexual orientations." Critics have said the law is too vaguely worded and is tantamount to discrimination against homosexuals, something Russian officials deny.

Read more: http://en.rian.ru/world/20130810/182682181/Russia-Olympic-Boycott-Not-Appropriate-Obama-Says.html

US Remains 'Uninterested' As Kurds Massacred By Syria’s Militant Opposition

Reports this week of the radical Islamist opposition in Syria massacring Kurds in the northern Syria is a disturbing development, but not nearly as disturbing as the strategic silence on the issue by the US and European government-media complex.

According to reports from the village of Tal Abyad near the Turkish border on Monday, jihadist terror brigades massacred some 450 residents, including 330 women and elderly, along with 120 youths and elderly near the Turkish border.

For nearly a year now, this Saudi and Qatari-financed armed opposition, known as Al-Nusra Front, or Jabhat Al-Nusra, has been enabled by its benefactors to run ramped in and around Syria. Because of the US and Britain’s cozy relationship with both their gulf allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar, very little, if any, condemnation has come from the political ring leaders of the Syrian reformation project based in Washington and London. The same goes for the Western media, who do not want to run any news that might further expose their political leaders’ own shaky history with Syria since the conflict began.

Any US congressional hearings or British parliamentary inquiries into the matter might just reveal too much information about the illegal flow of arms, or the presence of CIA, MI6, Mossad agents, along with any other undeclared special forces currently involved in operations around the conflict zone there. Given the current political climate, any such revelations would be a political disaster, especially for Washington.

Arab-Kurdish war in Syria?

Other disturbing reports of targeted violence in the region include Kurds being targeted by both Al-Nusra Front and the Free Syrian Army in northern Syria. Recently, in Tall Hassel and Tall Aren near Aleppo, 200 Kurds were said to have been taken hostage. There are also fears of the possibly that dozens of other civilians, including women and children, may have been brutally massacred there.



Obama’s Putin Snub Puts New Focus On Moscow’s China Ties

When leaders of the G20 assemble in St Petersburg next month, all eyes will be on the body language between the host Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama, who this week snubbed the Russian leader by cancelling a separate summit in Moscow.

But the cameras will also be keen to capture the chemistry between Mr Putin and Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader who has quietly encouraged the growing rapprochement between the two nations.

Disenchanted by its recent dealings with Mr Putin, the Obama administration is publicly downgrading the sort of relationship it expects to have with Russia. Yet one unintended consequence of such an approach could be to push Russia and China closer together in ways that will not be helpful to US interests.

“These days, Russian and Chinese leaders exchange more phone calls than either does with the US,” says Dimitri Simes, president of the Center for the National Interest, a Washington think-tank.



GDP Growth A Question Mark As Wholesale Inventories Miss

U.S. wholesale inventories unexpectedly fell for a second straight month in June, which could prompt economists to mark down their second-quarter growth estimates after they recently raised them.

The Commerce Department said on Friday wholesale inventories fell 0.2 percent after declining 0.6 percent in May.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected stocks at wholesalers to rebound 0.4 percent after a previously reported 0.5 percent fall.

Inventories are a key component of gross domestic product changes. Excluding autos, inventories were flat. This component goes into the calculation of GDP. The government last week reported that gross domestic product expanded at a 1.7 percent annual pace in the second quarter.

However, factory orders data last week showed nondurable manufacturing inventories in June were a bit higher than the government had assumed in its advance GDP growth estimate.



Florida’s Scott Rolls Political Dice With New Voter Purge

By Toluse Olorunnipa - Aug 9, 2013

Republican Governor Rick Scott is restarting his high-profile purge of suspected noncitizens from Florida’s voting rolls in a move to appeal to core supporters that risks losing the backing of key swaths of the electorate.

Scott, seizing on the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of a main element of the Voting Rights Act, has revived one of his administration’s most contentious missions: rooting out noncitizens from Florida’s list of 11.8 million voters.

While the move to fight fraud may burnish Scott’s appeal to Republicans, strategists say, it risks reviving memories of polling-place snafus in 2012 and alienating the state’s growing Hispanic population. The purge, which began before the 2012 election, stalled when several U.S. citizens were targeted and a Latino-advocacy group sued, claiming discrimination.

“For both parties, the discussion about purging the voter rolls is all about turning out the vote for next year,” said Susan MacManus, who teaches politics at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Yet the risk remains for Scott, she said. “The voter fraud versus voter suppression debate is alive and well in Florida, and there’s no sign of it going away.”



Obama Fraud Task Force Takes on the Big Banks

Source: Bloomberg

By Greg Farrell, Phil Mattingly and Karen Gullo - Aug 9, 2013

The criminal investigation of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s mortgage-backed securities practice is evidence a U.S. Justice Department task force set up to investigate causes of the financial crisis is finally getting some traction against banks blamed for ruining the economy.

The probe, disclosed this week in the bank’s quarterly filing, is the latest enforcement effort to emerge from the Residential Mortgage Backed Securities Working Group. It was set up last year on orders of President Barack Obama to coordinate prosecutions of fraudulent underwriting activity by banks that contributed to the financial crisis.

The JPMorgan probe, which is also looking at possible civil violations, grew out of the working group’s efforts, said Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner in Sacramento, who is leading the investigation and is a member of the group’s parent, the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

“Over the last year and a half, the RMBS Working Group members have been aggressively investigating multiple cases across the country and the public is only beginning to see the results,” Associate Attorney General Tony West, the No. 3 ranking official at the Justice Department, said in an e-mail.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-09/obame-fradu-task-force-takes-on-the-big-banks.html
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