Shorter Question Everything
• The whereabouts of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden were unclear on Monday as heavy security at a Moscow airport fueled speculation that he would attempt to fly to Havana en route to Ecuador. However, journalists aboard Monday morning’s Aeroflot flight to Cuba said there was no sign of Snowden on board. The government of Ecuador earlier confirmed that it was considering asylum application for Snowden. The Associated Press reported he had registered for the flight with a U.S. passport, which American officials said had been annulled. Aeroflot declined to comment on whether Snowden took his seat. Amid one of the most high-profile global manhunts in recent history, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced via Twitter that the government had “received an asylum application from Snowden.”
• Lawmakers: Snowden’s flight to Moscow undercuts whistleblower defense. Lawmakers said that defense will be hurt by Snowden’s Sunday flight to Russia, a rival nation that still spies on the United States. “I don’t think this man is a whistleblower,” said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Whatever his motives are — and I take him at face value — he could have stayed and faced the music. I don’t think running is a noble thought,” she said. Feinstein expressed concern that he could be carrying a trove of classified material as he meets with foreign agents. “We need to know exactly what he has. He could have a lot, lot more. It may really put people in jeopardy,” she told CBS. “The only thing I’ve learned is that he could have over 200 separate items.” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said U.S. officials should use “every legal avenue” to bring Snowden back to the country to face charges. Rogers undercut Snowden’s argument that he is a conscientious whistleblower by noting reports that he could leave Russia for other countries with contentious relations with the United States. “When you look at it, every one of those nations is hostile to the U.S. If you could go to North Korea and Iran, he could round out his government oppression tour,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press”.
• Snowden: The protectors that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has potentially chosen — and his failure to criticize those countries — suggests his true motive throughout has been to injure the national security of the U.S. and not to advance Internet freedom and free speech, a senior Obama administration official said. “Mr. Snowden’s claim that he is focused on supporting transparency, freedom of the press and protection of individual rights and democracy is belied by the protectors he has potentially chosen: China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador,” the official said.
• Absolutely disgraceful: Representative Peter King (R-KY) lashed out at fellow Republican Rand Paul on Sunday over National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden. King said on Fox News the United States should take whatever action necessary to extradite Snowden to the United States. “I think it is important for the American people to realize that this guy is a traitor, a defector, he’s not a hero,” the congressman added. “And I heard Senator Rand Paul this morning actually compared Snowden to General Clapper. What’s happened to our country? This is a traitor, and for anyone to be comparing him to a U.S. military hero is absolutely disgraceful.”
• Even Rand Paul may be starting to get it: Libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Sunday warned National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden that he would be judged harshly by history if he became friendly with “enemies” of the United States. “If he cozies up to either the Russian government, the Chinese government or any of these governments that are perceived still as enemies or ours, I think that will be a real problem for him in history.”
• The former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed a highly classified surveillance program has had his U.S. passport revoked, an official said Sunday. Edward Snowden’s passport was annulled before he left Hong Kong for Russia and while that could complicate his travel plans, the lack of a passport alone could not thwart his plans, the U.S. official said. If a senior official in another country or with an airline orders it, a country could overlook the withdrawn passport, the official said.
• Ecuador Recently Passed Law Further Restricting Press Freedom. The Committee to Protect Journalists has said Ecuador is engaged in “widespread repression of the media.” Last Friday, Ecuador legislature passed a restrictive media law by a 108-26 margin that was heralded by the country’s President Rafael Correa. The bill contained 119 articles, according to a report from the Associated Press, one of which outlawed so-called “media lynching” which the law stated was having negative effect on person or institutions image without sufficient evidence. Criminal charges can be brought against journalists who violate the law.
In other news
• Senators introduce bill to block US arming Syria militants. Four bipartisan US senators have introduced a bill aimed at prohibiting the administration of President Barack Obama from providing military assistance to militants in Syria. The legislation was introduced on June 20 by Democrats Tom Udall and Chris Murphy and Republicans Mike Lee and Rand Paul in an effort to bar the US Department of Defense and spy agencies from feeding anti-Syria Takfiri militants.
• Libya’s Ansar al Shariah, expelled after Ambassador Chris Stevens’ death, is back in Benghazi. Three days after the popular ambassador’s death, hundreds of outraged Libyans stormed Ansar al Shariah’s headquarters, routing everyone inside and setting the building ablaze. Members of Ansar al Shariah disappeared, “like sugar in water,” as one Libyan explained. Nine months later, Ansar al Shariah is back on the streets of Benghazi. This time, the group is rebranding itself as a social organization, opening a health clinic and a center for Islamic exorcism. It provides aid to the poor. Its Facebook page shows the group’s vehicles patrolling the streets and its members constructing new buildings and handing out money to the needy.
• The H7N9 bird flu that hit China this year killed over a third of hospitalised patients, said researchers Monday who labelled the virus “less serious” but probably more widespread than previously thought.
• Right wing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford wants Ontario taxpayers to needlessly subsidize Toronto so he can use the money to score election year political points by cutting taxes. A change in the way Queen’s Park funds Toronto is generating predictable outrage from Mayor Rob Ford’s administration. The prospect of this city being shortchanged by almost $150 million over the next few years is being painted in dire tones. “This money will have to come from cuts to vital programs,” Ford warned on Friday. He wants an urgent meeting with Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa — but Ford doesn’t have much to complain about given that, even with this reduction, Toronto is set to receive more from the province than it does now. What would he use it for? Ford has openly declared his budget goal next year is a 10 per cent cut in the city’s land transfer tax. That would cost about $34 million. No wonder Ford needs restoration of the $50 million in pooling compensation money that the province plans to erase in 2014. He wants Ontario taxpayers, already saddled with a massive deficit, to keep paying into a fund of dwindling necessity so he can use the money to score election year political points by cutting Torontonians’ taxes. Along the way, Ford is sure to brag about his so-called fiscal discipline, as he did again Friday, while hammering Wynne and the Liberals for their profligacy.
• FOX message to women: “Shut up. Know your role and shut your mouth.”