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US releases email, tries to debunk Snowden claims

The US government released an email written by Edward Snowden, in a bid to debunk his claim that he raised concerns about mass spying programs before fleeing and engineering huge media leaks. Snowden, now exiled in Russia, said in an interview aired by NBC Wednesday that he had gone through official channels to question the legality of National Security Agency surveillance. The former intelligence contractor mentioned a specific email he had written to the NSA General Counsel's Office detailing his concerns. In response, the agency released what President Barack Obama's administration said was the only such communication found in the archives from Snowden on the issue, and said it did not prove his claims.


SpaceX’s Giant Leap

Elon Musk’s newly unveiled crew capsule upends Space Age tradition, with the ability to choose where it will touch down among other innovations.


25 years on, world happy to do business with Beijing's 'butchers'

Twenty-five years after the West condemned the "butchers" who crushed protesters in Tiananmen Square, China's astonishing economic and military transformation means the world has largely set aside concerns on human rights as it courts the former pariah. Outraged Western nations imposed economic sanctions and banned arms sales after troops killed hundreds of people during the night of June 3-4, 1989 as they cleared Beijing's streets of students agitating for democracy. But then US president George H.W. Bush -- a former ambassador to China who had worked to jump-start the relationship -- resisted calls for more sweeping punishment and secretly sent senior officials to Beijing to reassure supreme leader Deng Xiaoping. His successor Bill Clinton -- whose 1992 campaign denounced the "Butchers of Beijing" -- initially tied China's trading status to progress on human rights, but the link was soon dropped.


NSA finds 1 email from Snowden raising question

WASHINGTON (AP) — Edward Snowden says he repeatedly raised constitutional concerns about National Security Agency surveillance internally, but an NSA search turned up a single email in which Snowden gently asks for "clarification" on a technical legal question about training materials, agency officials said Thursday.


PETA Joins the Idiotic Anti-Vaxxer Herd

The group that brought you animal-fur horror stories has just launched a campaign claiming cow’s milk causes autism. Hold on to your Cheerios, this one needs explaining.


AP sources: Russian troops leaving Ukraine border

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (AP) — U.S. defense officials said Thursday that Russia has pulled most of its forces away from the Ukraine border, a withdrawal that the U.S. has been demanding for weeks.


NSA, Snowden clash over 2013 internal email release

By Warren Strobel WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An email exchange released on Thursday shows Edward Snowden questioned the U.S. National Security Agency's legal training programs, but provides no evidence the former contractor complained internally about vast NSA surveillance programs that he later leaked to the media. Snowden responded in an email to the Washington Post that the release by U.S. officials "is incomplete." The release of the April 2013 emails between Snowden and the NSA's legal office is the latest round in a battle between Snowden, who casts himself as a crusading whistleblower, and U.S. security officials, who say he failed to report his concerns to superiors before acting. In an interview with NBC News on Wednesday, Snowden said he had raised alarms at multiple levels about the NSA's broad collection of phone, email and Internet connections. In a statement, the NSA said: "The e-mail did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse, but posed a legal question that the Office of General Counsel addressed." "There are numerous avenues that Mr. Snowden could have used to raise other concerns or whistleblower allegations.


Time to start new US-Cuba relations: US commerce chief

The head of the US Chamber of Commerce said the time has come to start a new chapter in relations between Cuba and the United States. "For too long, the relationship between our nations has been defined by our differences and shackled by our past," Thomas Donohue said on a visit to the communist-ruled island. Washington has had an economic embargo clamped on Cuba since 1962, and the two have never moved off a Cold War footing in their ties. Donohue, speaking at the end of a three-day visit accompanied by a high-ranking business delegation, noted that Cuba was changing some of its economic policies and that its private sector was "clearly growing."


Rename Chinese embassy's street in Washington, US lawmakers urge

US lawmakers called Thursday for the street outside China's embassy to be renamed in honor of jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. A diverse group of US House members said that a name change on at least a section of the street in Washington would embolden Chinese rights campaigners as Beijing authorities work hard to censor any mention of the 1989 pro-democracy uprising which was crushed with deadly force. "This modest effort would undoubtedly give hope to the Chinese people who continue to yearn for basic human rights and representative democracy and would remind their oppressors that they are in fact on the wrong side of history," the lawmakers said in a letter to Mayor Vincent Gray and the District of Columbia Council.


Hollywood Chief Wants Sex Case Dismissed

Former NBC exec Garth Ancier has become the last in a quartet of power players to seek to have Michael Egan’s assault case thrown out. He wasn’t in Hawaii at the time, he argues.


Iran Is Using Neocons to Hack You

John Bolton, the former U.N. ambassador under George W. Bush, is playing an unexpectedly prominent role in an Iranian cyberspying campaign.


U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief urges Cuba to extend reforms

By Daniel Trotta HAVANA (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Thursday urged Cuba to speed up and extend market-style economic reforms, saying world investors would respond and that it might be the best path toward better relations with the United States. Chamber President Thomas Donohue extolled the virtues of capitalism and free markets in the communist-ruled country, once taboo subjects here, and told Cubans that reducing excessive government control of the economy was the best assurance of prosperity. "The more Cuba can do to demonstrate its commitment to reform, and the more it can do to address and resolve disputes in our relations, the better the prospects will be for changes in U.S. policy," Donohue said in a speech before Foreign Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca, a host of other Cuban officials and university students. Donohue also met with Cuban President Raul Castro, state television said, without reporting details of their conversation.


Legacy at risk, Obama struggles to redefine foreign policy

By Matt Spetalnick WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama’s second term was supposed to be a crowning opportunity to make his mark on the world stage, but instead he's leading an intense effort to redefine his foreign policy record – and the odds look stacked against him. An administration-wide public relations blitz, which Obama launched with a big foreign policy speech this week, has done little to quell critics who frequently pan his global approach as rudderless, as the White House lurches from crisis to crisis. While Obama has outlined a strategy that includes both a strong military and the diplomatic tools of alliances and sanctions to provide global leadership, it is unclear if he and his aides have the vision – let alone time - to change the perception of a presidency with eroding global influence. “And he faces a series of problems in which quick-and-easy American fixes are really not available.” Topping the list is Ukraine, where Obama and other Western leaders were powerless to prevent Russia’s seizure of Crimea.


California lawmakers advance bill to mandate paid sick leave

By Jennifer Chaussee SACRAMENTO Calif. (Reuters) - California businesses would have to offer paid sick leave to employees under a bill approved by the state Assembly on Thursday, and if the measure becomes law California would join Connecticut as the only U.S. states with such a mandate. The measure, authored by Democratic Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez, requires all employers to offer one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. It would allow employers to limit the number of sick days a worker can take to three days. Worker rights groups and others are campaigning for an expansion of paid sick leave rights in the private sector.

Snowden raised concerns in 2013 email, but no evidence he blew whistle: NSA

By Warren Strobel WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An email exchange released on Thursday shows that Edward Snowden questioned the U.S. National Security Agency's legal training programs, but provides no evidence the former contractor complained internally about vast NSA surveillance programs that he later leaked to the media. The release of the April 2013 emails between Snowden and the NSA's legal office is the latest round in a battle between Snowden, who casts himself as a crusading whistleblower, and U.S. security officials, who say he failed to report his concerns to superiors before acting. In an interview with NBC News on Wednesday, Snowden said he had raised alarms at multiple levels about the NSA's broad collection of phone, email and Internet connections. In a statement, the NSA said: "The e-mail did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse, but posed a legal question that the Office of General Counsel addressed." "There are numerous avenues that Mr. Snowden could have used to raise other concerns or whistleblower allegations.


Gov. Jan Brewer signs child welfare overhaul bills

PHOENIX (AP) — Less than a year after revelations that thousands of child abuse and neglect reports in Arizona had gone uninvestigated, the state has overhauled its child welfare agency and funded it with tens of millions more than in the past.

Will Congress Back Medical Marijuana?

With a House vote, six Democrats and six Republicans are hoping to force the DEA and Justice Department to end their merciless crackdown on pot for the sick and dying.


Lawmakers rob Peter to pay Paul on spending bills

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House is cutting back armed air marshals but increasing funding to deal with a surge in unaccompanied immigrant children. It's boosting funding for gun background checks and resisting tea party cuts to economic development programs. Military readiness is taking a hit to pay for more ships and airplanes.

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