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NSA Powers Expire, Beijing Smoking Ban, Marathon Granny

NSA Powers Expire, Beijing Smoking Ban, Marathon Granny


Key parts of the U.S. Patriot Act that allow the National Security Agency to collect citizen data in bulk have expired after the Senate failed to reach a deal before last night’s midnight renewal deadline. Sen. Rand Paul, who strongly opposes the NSA’s carte blanche spying powers, was triumphant, The Hillwrites, though he acknowledged the victory would only be temporary. “They will ultimately get their way,” he said. But the Senate did vote to advance the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would end the NSA’s bulk collection of phone data. Paul is concerned, however, that the power will simply pass from the government to phone companies. The bill’s final passage is expected to come later this week.


“Russia obviously retains the right if needed to deploy its nuclear weapons anywhere on its national territory, including on the Crimean Peninsula,” Russian Foreign Ministry official Mikhail Ulyanov told RIA Novosti. The comments are in response to Ukraine Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, who said during a NATO meeting in May that “any activity or even signals from Russia on the mere possibility of deploying nuclear weapons in Crimea will be considered the gravest breach in all international norms.”


FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who was elected Friday to a record fifth term as head of the world’s soccer organization, could be questioned by U.S. authorities and even arrested as part of the corruption probe, a former legal chief told Sky News. On Saturday, the 79-year-old reiterated the accusation that the timing of the U.S. probe and last week’s arrests was intended to prevent his reelection.

  • Three major British banks have launched internal investigations into incriminated transactions to find out whether these breached anti-bribery and anti-money-laundering laws, The Daily Telegraph reports.


Happy birthday to both CNN and Morgan Freeman, born respectively in 1980 and 1937. Time for your 57-second shot of history.


Former Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili has given up his Georgian nationality to be appointed governor of Ukraine’s southern Odessa region. The move prompted an angry reaction from Georgia’s current president, who accused Saakashvili of having “insulted our country and the presidential institution,” RT reports. Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko’s appointment of Saakashvili, who has been blamed for starting the 2008 war with Russia, was mocked in Moscow.

  • Meanwhile, Ukraine’s economy has suffered more than expected due to the conflict with Russia, the IMF says, with the GDP predicted to fall by 9% this year and inflation expected to rise by 46%. The Ukrainian government is reportedly still committed to drastic economic reform to secure an approved IMF loan. Read more from the BBC.


As Le Monde’s Frédéric Saliba reports, unchecked urbanization is destroying what's left of the Mexican capital’s pre-Aztec chinampas, gardens that are grown on shallow lake beds. “Five centuries on, this network of waterways and artificial islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is threatened by the city’s disorderly expansion and over-exploitation of its water resources,” Saliba writes. “The government of Mexico City has an action plan, financed by France, to save this enormous district of the capital that is also the home of ancestral farming traditions and exceptional biodiversity. ‘There is no time to lose,’ says resident Claudia Zenteno, pointing with clear frustration at plastic bottles, bags and cans floating in the dark, stagnant water outside her house.”

Read the full article, Racing To Save Mexico City's Floating Gardens.


Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi admitted in a televised interview yesterday that the ISIS terror group had seized vast quantities of U.S.-made weapons and vehicles, including at least 2,300 Humvees, when it took control of Mosul last year, AFP reports.

  • In a rare interview with the BBC, former CIA director David Petraeus said that the jihadists couldn’t be defeated “just with force of arms,” explaining that the “political component” was also important.


Photo: Luo Xiaoguang/Xinhua/ZUMA

China’s toughest anti-smoking legislation yet takes effect today in Beijing, where smoking in public spaces such as such workplaces, schools and on public transport is now prohibited. Fines of 200 RMB ($32) will be levied for individual transgressors, and a hefty 10,000 RMB ($1,600) fine is in store for venues that ignore the ban. According to Bloomberg, the new law could be a trial run for future nationwide legislation.


The six world powers negotiating with Iran to prevent the country from developing nuclear weapons have finally agreed on a way to restore UN sanctions if Iran is ever found breaking a potential deal, Reuters reports.



The loss of flights MH370 and MH17 last year have left Malaysia Airlines “technically bankrupt,” newly appointed CEO Christoph Mueller said during a news conference. The company, which was facing financial difficulties before the two tragic events, will restructure its operations, a move that will see 6,000 people lose their jobs. Read more from Sky News.


Harriette Thompson, a 92-year-old cancer survivor, has become the oldest woman to run 26.2 miles, finishing San Diego’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon yesterday in 7 hours and 24 minutes.

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