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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Snowden granted temporary asylum in Russia

Intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia and has left the Moscow airport where he had been staying since June. The United States charged him with leaking details of surveilance programmes. He was trapped in the Moscow airport because his passport had been revoked. Journalists didn’t get to see him in the airport and, according to his lawyer, he was taken to a secret location. “He is the most pursued man on the planet,” the lawyer said.

A photocopy of the document that Snowden received was presented to the press. In the Russian ID card there is a fingerprint, issue date of 31 July and expiry date of 31 July 2014. Russian insiders expected a strong message from the U.S. government in the following hours to protest against the decision. Days ago the American government promised not to seek the death penalty against Snowden to lure Russian authorities into sending him back.

Mugabe claims win in Zimbabwe, opposition attacks “farce”

A violent end to the Zimbabwean elections loomed large after President Robert Mugabe’s party claimed victory, while Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai called it all a farce. Tsvangirai said the vote should be considered invalid because of polling day irregularities and vote-rigging. He didn’t clarify whether he or his party will mount any kind of legal challenge. Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission hasn’t issued any official results yet — those are expected by Monday.

Independent observers said there were voter registration irregularities. Local sources point out that 99.97 percent of voters in the countryside – Mugabe’s main source of support – were registered, against just 67.9 percent in the mostly pro-Tsvangirai urban areas. In all, 6.4 million people were eligible to vote. In 2008 another contested poll brought violence to the southern African nation.

People, crops and fish suffer in China heat wave

China has issued a national alert because of record-breaking temperatures. Dozens died across the nation, officials said. Many Chinese have used the last few days to take refuge in caves and swimming pools. Local governments are using cloud-seeding technology to bring rain to millions of acres of parched farmland. The worst heat is concentrated in the south and east of the country. Shanghai is having its hottest July in 140 years, according to state media.

Temperatures there reached 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher on 25 days in July. More than 10 people died from heatstroke in Shanghai only during the month. Officials say 19 provinces and regions are experiencing that issue. The heatwave covers more than 3 million square kilometers, almost a third of the country.

Spain PM admits mishandling funding scandal

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has admitted he made a mistake in his handling of a corruption scandal in his party. He said he shouldn’t have trusted former aide Luis Barcelas, who hid up to 48 million euros ($63.5m) in Swiss bank accounts. Even so, Rajoy said he is not going to resign over the issue. Barcenas told a judge he collected millions in cash from construction magnates and distributed them to senior PP figures, including Rajoy.

The PM denied that accusation before Congress. He also rejects the allegation his party ran a slush fund. Barcenas left his post in 2009, but continued receiving financial support from the party. He kept in contact with Rajoy via text messages until January this year. The former aide is in jail pending trial on charges of bribery, tax evasion and other crimes.

Japan minister retracts about Nazi example on constitution

After a wave of criticism, Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso retracted comments suggesting the country should follow the Nazi example of how to change the constitution. He said the Nazi party changed Germany’s constitution before World War II before anyone realized it. He also said Japanese politicians be silent about their visits to Tokyo’s Yasukuni war shrine — seen by many as praise on atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers then.

Aso said he only meant that loud debate over whether Japan should change its postwar constitution is not helpful. The comments were made before an ultra-conservative group. The Japanese government has proposals to revise the postwar constitution to give a bigger role to the military. Japan and Nazi Germany were allies in World War II, when Japan occupied much of Asia and Germany much of Europe.

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