Tuesday July 2, 2013

Egypt’s military gives president, opponents 48 hours to reach agreement or it will intervene

CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt’s powerful military warned on Monday it will intervene if the Islamist president doesn’t "meet the people’s demands," giving him and his opponents two days to reach an agreement in what it called a last chance. Hundreds of thousands of protesters massed for a second day calling on Mohammed Morsi to step down.

Military helicopters, some dangling Egyptian flags, swooped over Cairo’s Tahrir Square where many broke into cheers with the army’s announcement, read on state television. The statement seemed to fuel the flow of crowds into city squares around the country where protesters chanted and sang.

"Come out, el-Sissi. The people want to topple the regime," protesters in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla el-Kubra chanted, urging military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to intervene.

The military’s statement puts enormous pressure on Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood. So far, the president has vowed he will remain in his position, but the opposition and crowds in the street -- who numbered in the millions nationwide on Sunday -- have made clear they will accept nothing less than his departure and a transition to early presidential elections.

That makes action by the generals when the deadline runs out nearly inevitable, since a deal seems unlikely. The statement did not define the "people’s demands" that must be met.


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But it strongly suggested that Sunday’s gigantic rallies expressed the desire of Egyptians, raising the likelihood it would insist on Morsi’s departure.

Obama seeks to tamp
down European outrage at report that U.S. has been snooping on its allies

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."

The latest issue concerns allegations of U.S. spying on European officials in the German news weekly Der Spiegel. French President Francois Hollande on Monday demanded that the U.S. immediately stop any such eavesdropping and suggested the widening controversy could jeopardize next week’s opening of trans-Atlantic trade talks between the United States and Europe.

Prosecution wrapping
up its case against Army private who gave classified info to WikiLeaks

FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) -- Al-Qaida leaders reveled in WikiLeaks’ publication of reams of classified U.S. documents, urging members to study them before devising ways to attack the United States, according to evidence presented by the prosecution Monday in the court-martial of an Army private who leaked the material.

"By the grace of God the enemy’s interests are today spread all over the place," Adam Gadahn, an American member of the terrorist group, said in a 2011 al-Qaida propaganda video. The video specifically referred to material published by WikiLeaks, according to a written description of the propaganda piece submitted at the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning. The evidence, which both sides agreed was factual, was read into record by lead prosecutor Maj. Ashden Fein.

Prosecutors also submitted excerpts from the winter 2010 issue of al-Qaida’s online magazine "Inspire," which said "anything useful from WikiLeaks is useful for archiving."

The government presented another uncontested written statement that former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden asked for and received from an associate the Afghanistan battlefield reports that WikiLeaks published. The material was found on digital media seized in the May 2011 raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Fein said. Bin Laden was killed in the raid.

Testimony shows police questioning of George Zimmerman grew more pointed after shooting

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) -- Jurors in the George Zimmerman trial on Monday listened to a series of police interviews with detectives growing more pointed in their questioning of the neighborhood watch volunteer’s account of how he came to fatally shoot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Prosecutors played audio and video tapes of the interviews that Zimmerman had with Sanford Police investigators Doris Singleton and Chris Serino in the hours and days after he fatally shot the Miami teen.

In an early interview, just hours after the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting, Singleton recounted that Zimmerman noticed a cross she was wearing and said: "In Catholic religion, it’s always wrong to kill someone."

Singleton said she responded, "If what you’re telling me is true, I don’t think that what God meant was that you couldn’t save your own life."

But in an interview several days later, Singleton and Serino suggest Zimmerman was running after Martin before the confrontation. They also ask the neighborhood watch volunteer why he didn’t explain to Martin why he was following him. The officers insinuate that Martin may have been "creeped out" by being followed.

States’ rejection of expanded Medicaid could leave 2 of 3 eligible low-income people in a fix

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nearly 2 in 3 uninsured low-income people who would qualify for subsidized coverage under President Barack Obama’s health care law may be out of luck next year because their states have not expanded Medicaid.

An Associated Press analysis of figures from the Urban Institute finds a big coverage gap developing, with 9.7 million out of 15 million potentially eligible adults living in states that are refusing the expansion or are still undecided with time running short.

That a majority of the neediest people who could be helped by the law may instead remain uninsured is a predicament unforeseen by Obama and congressional Democrats who designed a sweeping extension of the social safety net. The law’s historic promise of health insurance for nearly all U.S. residents would not be fulfilled as envisioned.

It’s the direct consequence of last summer’s Supreme Court decision that gave states the right to opt out of the Medicaid expansion, combined with unyielding resistance to the law from many Republican state lawmakers.

Expanding Medicaid is essential to Obama’s two-part strategy for covering the uninsured.

Milwaukee archdiocese
files show priests paid to leave, money transferred before bankruptcy

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- As more victims of clergy sex abuse came forward, then-Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan developed a plan to pay some abusers to leave the priesthood after writing to Vatican officials with increasing frustration and concern, warning them about the potential for scandal if they did not defrock problem priests, according to documents released Monday.

Dolan’s correspondence with Vatican officials and priests accused of sexual abuse was included in about 6,000 pages of documents the Archdiocese of Milwaukee released Monday as part of a deal reached in federal bankruptcy court with clergy sex abuse victims suing it for fraud. Victims say the archdiocese transferred problem priests to new churches without warning parishioners and covered up priests’ crimes for decades.

The documents have drawn attention in part because of the involvement of Dolan, who is now cardinal of the Archdiocese of New York and the nation’s most prominent Roman Catholic official by virtue of his position as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The records provide new details on his plan to pay some abusers to leave the priesthood and the transfer of nearly $57 million for cemetery care into a trust as the archdiocese prepared to file for bankruptcy.

Victims and their attorneys accused Dolan of bankruptcy fraud, pointing to a June 2007 letter in which he told a Vatican office that moving the money into a trust would provide "an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability."

Texas’ abortion fight
begins anew as lawmakers convene 2nd special session, recess for week

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The Texas Legislature has recessed for the week, less than an hour after convening its second special session. That was just long enough to refer abortion legislation to committees for public hearings.

Lawmakers convened Monday to consider new abortion restrictions derailed last week by a Democratic senator’s filibuster and raucous protests.

Although there will be no further action on either floor until next week, committees will be in session this week. The chairman of the House State Affairs Committee said he’d cut off testimony on the bill at midnight Tuesday and expects the full House to get it next week.

Gov. Rick Perry called lawmakers back for an additional 30 days to pass a new law that limits where, when and how a woman may obtain an abortion in Texas.