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Monday, July 1, 2013

Egyptian Army Issues 48-Hour Ultimatum to Rival Parties

The Egyptian army issued a statement on Monday giving the country’s political parties a 48-hour deadline to reach a solution to put an end to the country’s nationwide protests or face a military “road map” that “will not exclude anyone”. The announcement came a week after Defence Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi had said the country’s military forces would not allow an “attack on the will of the people” and a day after anti-government protesters in Egypt ransacked the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the political party of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, in the Moqattam area of Cairo without much interference from security forces. The opposition movement behind the protests, Tamarod (Rebel), had given Morsi until Tuesday to step down or face a campaign of “civil disobedience”. The army’s decision to issue an ultimatum and possibly step into the political fray could see the country administered by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took over after former president Hosni Mubarak was deposed in February 2011.

NSA European Bugging Could Derail Trade Pact, Says Hollande

French President François Hollande said that allegations published by German magazine Der Spiegel, detailing how European embassies in the United States and European Union offices in Brussels were spied on by the US National Security Agency, could threaten a proposed EU-US trade deal. “We cannot accept this kind of behaviour between partners and allies. We ask that this immediately stop. There can be no negotiations or transactions in all areas until we have obtained these guarantees, for France but also for all of the European Union, for all partners of the United States”, said the French president. His calls were echoed by Steffen Seibert, spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said that “bugging friends is unacceptable, we are no longer in the Cold War”. US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about the allegations during a visit to Brunei. “Every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs of national security undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security and all kinds of information contributes to that. And all I know is that is not unusual for lots of nations”, he said.

Snowden Can Stay in Russia, But Only Without ‘Damaging American Partners’, Says Putin

US whistleblower Edward Snowden is “under the care of Russian authorities” and cannot leave Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport without their consent, according to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa. “He doesn’t have a passport. I don’t know the Russian laws, I don’t know if he can leave the airport, but I understand that he can’t. At this moment he’s under the care of the Russian authorities. If he arrives at an Ecuadorean Embassy we’ll analyze his request for asylum”, said the president during an interview with the AP news agency. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the whistleblower was free to remain in Russia if he chose to do so, but only if he stopped “damaging our American partners”. He also said Russia would not extradite Snowden under any conditions, despite reports that the FBI and its Russian counterpart, the FSB, had begun studying his case. “Russia has never extradited anyone and is not going to do so. Same as no one has ever been extradited to Russia”, said Putin. When asked about Snowden’s destination and travel plans, he said that “if I knew, I would tell you now”.

UK Prime Minister Calls for Restraint in MP Salary Rise

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has urged constraint following reports that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), the independent body that regulates MPs’ pays and pensions, is considering increasing MPs’ salary by 15 percent from around £67,000 to £75,000. The prime minister said the plan was “unthinkable” and that taxpayers, who have been “remorselessly squeezed”, would find the increase “impossible to understand.” However, Cameron would not be able to block the rise in pay as Ipsa’s final plans come into effect without the need for further legislation. “MPs are already very well paid both in terms of European politicians and the average salary in this country,” said Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance. “It would be particularly egregious for politicians to be handed a whopping great pay rise while hard-pressed taxpayers tighten their own belts.” Ipsa is expected to announce its recommendation in mid-July.

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