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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 20, 2014

AP world news briefs

By Associated Press | Jun 10, 2013

NSA contract worker says he’s newspapers’ source on U.S. government surveillance program

WASHINGTON (AP) — The man who gave classified documents to reporters, making public two sweeping U.S. surveillance programs and touching off a national debate on privacy versus security, has revealed his own identity. He risked decades in jail for the disclosures — if the U.S. can extradite him from Hong Kong where he says he has taken refuge.

Edward Snowden, 29, who says he worked as a contractor at the National Security Agency and the CIA, allowed The Guardian and The Washington Post newspapers to reveal his identity Sunday.

Both papers have published a series of top-secret documents outlining two NSA surveillance programs. One gathers hundreds of millions of U.S. phone records while searching for possible links to known terrorist targets abroad, and the second allows the government to tap into nine U.S. Internet companies to gather all Internet usage to detect suspicious behavior that begins overseas.

The revelations have reopened the post-Sept. 11 debate about individual privacy concerns versus heightened measures to protect the U.S. against terrorist attacks. The NSA has asked the Justice Department to conduct a criminal investigation into the leaks.

President Barack Obama said the programs are authorized by Congress and subject to strict supervision of a secret court, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says they do not target U.S. citizens.

 

Afghan Taliban attack near Kabul airport; 2 civilians wounded, all 7 attackers killed

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Seven heavily armed Taliban fighters launched a pre-dawn attack near Afghanistan’s main airport Monday, apparently targeting NATO’s airport headquarters with rocket-propelled grenades, assault rifles and at least one large bomb. Two Afghan civilians were wounded and all the attackers were killed after an hours-long battle.

It was one of three attacks on state facilities in the morning by insurgents around the country.

Another six militants wearing suicide bomb vests tried to storm the provincial council building in the capital of southern Zabul province, while three attempted to attack a district police headquarters just outside Kabul.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said that in Zabul they managed to wound 18 people, including three police officers, when they detonated a car bomb outside the building in the city of Qalat, but security forces shot and killed them before they managed to enter. On the outskirts of Kabul, police killed one attacker and arrested two others who tried to storm the headquarters building in the Surobi district.

In the capital, it was the third time in a month that insurgents have launched a major attack seeking high-profile targets, part of an effort to rattle public confidence as Afghan security forces take over most responsibility for protecting the country ahead of the withdrawal of foreign troops next year.

In bid to ease tensions, rival Koreas to hold 2-days of senior-level talks this week in Seoul

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North and South Korea agreed Monday to hold senior-level talks this week in Seoul, a breakthrough of sorts to ease tensions after Pyongyang’s recent threats of nuclear war and Seoul’s vows of counterstrikes.

The two-day meeting starting Wednesday will focus on stalled cooperation projects, including the resumption of operations at a jointly-run factory park near the border in North Korea that was the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean rapprochement until Pyongyang pulled out its workers in April during heightened tensions that followed its February nuclear test.

The details of the upcoming talks were ironed out in a nearly 17-hour negotiating session by lower-level officials. Those discussions began Sunday in the countries’ first government-level meeting on the Korean Peninsula in more than two years and took place at the village of Panmunjom on their heavily armed border, near where the armistice ending the three-year Korean War was signed 60 years ago next month. That truce has never been replaced with a peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula technically at war.

The agreement to hold the talks was announced in a statement early Monday by South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which is responsible for North Korea matters. North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, also reported the agreement.

It’s still unclear who will represent each side in what will likely be the highest-level talks between the Koreas in years. But dialogue at any level marks an improvement in the countries’ abysmal ties. The last several years have seen North Korean nuclear tests, long-range rocket launches and attacks blamed on the North that killed 50 South Koreans in 2010.

 

Two-thirds of Haiti’s people face hunger, malnourishment as problems worsen in storms’ wake

BELLE ANSE, Haiti (AP) — The hardship of hunger abounds amid the stone homes and teepee-like huts in the mountains along Haiti’s southern coast.

The hair on broomstick-thin children has turned patchy and orangish, their stomachs have ballooned to the size of their heads and many look half their age — the tell-tale signs of malnutrition. Mabriole town official Geneus Lissage fears that death is imminent for these children if Haitian authorities and humanitarian workers don’t do more to stem the hunger problems.

“They will be counting bodies,” Lissage said, “because malnutrition is ravaging children, youngsters and babies.”

Three years after an earthquake killed hundreds of thousands and the U.S. promised that Haiti would “build back better,” hunger is worse than ever. And despite billions of dollars from around the world pledged toward rebuilding efforts, the country’s food problems underscore just how vulnerable its 10 million people remain.

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South African presidency: Nelson Mandela’s condition in hospital remains serious but stable

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Former President Nelson Mandela’s condition remains serious but stable on Monday, his third day in a Pretoria hospital, the South African government said.

“His condition is unchanged,” the office of President Jacob Zuma said in a brief statement.

Mandela, who is 94 years old, was taken to a hospital early Saturday to be treated for a recurring lung infection. At that time, Zuma’s office described the anti-apartheid leader’s condition as “serious but stable.”

On Sunday, members of Mandela’s family were seen visiting the hospital where the anti-apartheid leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate is believed to be staying.

Mandela, also known by his clan name Madiba, has been hospitalized several times in recent months. During a hospital stay that ended April 6, doctors diagnosed him with pneumonia and drained fluid from his chest.

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The top 5 moments of the Tony Awards telecast

NEW YORK (AP) — The top five moments on Sunday night’s Tony Awards telecast:

1. Neil Patrick Harris opening the show with an insane amount of dancers, glitter and silliness. He joked about kiddie stars, ended up hanging high from a prop and made even Mike Tyson dance.

2. When Harris joined “Smash” star Megan Hilty, “Go On” star Laura Benanti (swigging a bottle) and former “The Book of Mormon” star Andrew Rannells to skewer theater stars who seek fame — and fortune — on TV. Harris’ guests all recently tried their hands at TV, but only his “How I Met Your Mother” is still on the air.

3. That amazing kid tap-dancing in the “A Christmas Story, the Musical” segment. He’s 10-year-old Luke Spring and in his gangster’s pinstripe suit and lightning-fast feet, he mowed people down.

4. Cyndi Lauper performing her song “True Colors” during the segment when dead members of the theater community are honored. It was moving, natural and fitting that Lauper, a first-time Broadway composer, make the nod to her predecessors.

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