Folk musician, activist Pete Seeger has passed away at age 94

"At some point, Pete Seeger decided he’d be a walking, singing reminder of all of America’s history," Bruce Springsteen said at a Madison Square Garden concert marking Seeger’s 90th birthday in 2009. “He’d be a living archive of America’s music and conscience, a testament to the power of song and culture to nudge history along, to push American events towards more humane and justified ends.”

Above is Seeger performing the classic “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore.” For our full obituary, head here.

Rapid escalation of clashes in Kiev

Three demonstrators have been killed in the Ukrainian capitol of Kiev, as protesters and police hunker down amid the debate over whether the country should build closer ties to the European Union.

The country’s government, led by prime minister Mykola Azarov, has sought to legitimize protesters by force and by law, enacting harsh restrictions on the right for demonstrations.

Follow the latest on the protests over at World Now.

Photos: Sergei Grits, Darko Vojinovic / Associated Press, Sergei Supinsky / AFP/Getty Images

Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years in prison

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning’s trial reached its conclusion just moments ago, with a military judge handing down a sentence of 35 years in jail for his role in leaking a multitude of classified U.S. military and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks.

Hailed by supporters as a heroic whistleblower, and dismissed as a national security threat by critics, Manning apologized last week for any harm that may have arisen from his actions.

Manning faced a maximum of 90 years in prison, though prosecutors sought a 60-year sentence. He has also built up more than three years in credit toward his sentence. With parole, he could be out in as soon as ten years.

Read more as the story progresses on Nation Now.

Photos: Patrick Semansky, Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press

fotojournalismus:

Egypt | August 16, 2013

1. Soldiers take their positions on top of and next to their armoured vehicles while guarding an entrance to Tahrir Square. (Hassan Ammar/AP)

2. Egyptian army soldiers take their positions on top and next to their armored vehicles while guarding an entrance to Tahrir square. (Hassan Ammar/AP)

3. A woman shouts slogans as supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi take part in a protest outside Al-Fath Mosque in Ramses Square, in Cairo. (Youssef Boudlal/Reuters)

4. A supporter of Morsi holding an ordinance, march towards downtown Cairo from the Mohandeseen district of Cairo. (Thomas Hartwell/AP)

5. Egyptian Army soldiers stand guard outside the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, in the center of the largest protest camp of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, that was cleared by security forces, in the district of Nasr City, Cairo. (Hassan Ammar/AP)

6. A  supporter shouts slogans after he is injured in front Azbkya police station during clashes at Ramses Square in Cairo. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)

7. Egyptian government employees clean up outside the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque. (Hassan Ammar/AP)

8. Supporters of Morsi surround a coffin, covered with national flags, of their colleague who was killed during Wednesday’ clashes in Amr Ibn Al-As mosque before a funeral prayers in Cairo. (Amr Nabil/AP)

9. A military helicopter flies over clouds of smoke after clashes at Azbkya police station in Ramses Square. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)

10. Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi gesture at an army helicopter as they shout slogans during a protest outside Al-Fath Mosque in Ramses Square. (Muhammad Hamed/Reuters)

test reblogged from humanrightswatch

I’m sorry that my actions hurt people. I’m sorry that it hurt the United States. I’m apologizing for the unexpected results of my actions.

test reblogged from usatoday

After a long wait, Snowden is granted asylum, leaves Moscow airport

NSA leaker Edward Snowden, the so-called “most wanted man on Earth,” has been trapped at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport since June 23, after the U.S. canceled his passport.

A tug-of-war battle ensued between the U.S. and Russia, with Snowden caught in the middle, trying to gain asylum from a number of countries. As it turns out, this morning Russia granted him just that.

As for the details of Snowden’s departure from his temporary lodging:

His airport sojourn ended when Russia’s Federal Migration Service issued an identification document to Snowden, slightly resembling a Russian foreign travel passport. The document expires on July 31, 2014.

Kucherena said that the document may be extended indefinitely on an annual basis but would be canceled if Snowden leaves the country.

On his taxi ride from the airport Snowden was accompanied by Sarah Harrison, a legal advisor for the WikiLeaks organization, which has been assisting Snowden.

Read more as Russian correspondent Sergei L. Loiko reports in with the latest at World Now, or check out the other countries Snowden reached out to for asylum here.

Photos: Maxim Shipenjov / EPA, APTN / Associated Press

The Nate Silver of immigration reform?

Tom Wong, part statistician, part advocate for fixes to the nation’s immigration laws, is seen by many as the man with the crystal ball on the hot-button issue.

As is the case in legislatures across the country, various groups are vying for influence in Congress - either to pass broad immigration legislation, or to throw a monkey wrench into reform efforts.

Activists already have an idea of which lawmakers to target, but Wong gives them an extra edge. He can generate a custom analysis for, say, who might be receptive to an argument based on religious faith. With the House likely to consider separate measures rather than a comprehensive bill, Wong covers every permutation.

And Wong has a personal stake in the fight. He had no idea that he was been brought into the country illegally as a toddler until he was a teenager.

Unfortunately for Wong and his supporters, his models predict that unless there are significant changes, immigration reform will peter out in the House.

Read more in our latest Column One feature.

Photos: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Bradley Manning acquitted of aiding the enemy, guilty of multiple lesser charges

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who gave more than 700,000 classified documents from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was acquitted today of the most serious charge he was faced with, possibly escaping a life sentence. Nonetheless, he has still been found guilty of five espionage counts.

The judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, announced her findings after nearly two months of testimony and evidence in his military court-martial. Manning still could face a lengthy prison sentence after earlier pleading guilty to 10 lesser charges of mishandling classified data.

We’ll update this post as more information emerges from the scene at Fort Meade, Md.

Update: Sentencing for Manning will begin tomorrow morning, during which he will possibly be handed more than 100 years in prison for the guilty charges mentioned above, and five counts of theft and several military infractions.

Photos: Saul Loeb, Alex Wong / AFP/Getty Images, Patrick Semansky / Associated Press

Solitary solidarity: The men behind California’s prison hunger strike

A man decked in Neo-Nazi tattoos and locked away in solitary confinement, armed with a paralegal degree and a prison library, has emerged as the most prominent figurehead in California’s ongoing prison strike protests.

The convicted murderer Todd Ashker, along with three inmates with ties to the Mexican Mafia, Nuestra Familia and the Black Guerrilla Family, have sparked a protest of state prison conditions which, at their peak, involved more than 30,000 prisoners.

He describes the group as "a collective effort initiated by a multiracial group of long-term, similarly situated (SHU) prisoners who decided enough is enough."

But you would expect, not everyone’s on the prisoners’ side:

Terri McDonald, who ran California’s 33 prisons until a few months ago and now runs the Los Angeles County jail system, said Ashker and his compatriots in the Short Corridor Collective are not fighting for rights, but power.

"From my perspective, they are terrorists," she said.

Read more of reporter Paige St. John’s continued work covering California’s prisons here.

Photos: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Exclusive: U.S. has secretly provided training to Syrian rebels

Since late last year, CIA and U.S. operatives have been providing support to Syrian rebels, particularly for anti-tank and anti-aircraft armaments. 

The two-week courses include training with Russian-designed 14.5-millimeter anti-tank rifles, anti-tank missiles, as well as 23-millimeter anti-aircraft weapons, according to a rebel commander in the Syrian province of Dara who helps oversee weapons acquisitions and who asked his name not be used because the program is secret.

The training marks another step in U.S. involvement in the grisly, ongoing civil war within Syria, preceding President Obama’s recent pledge to provide arms to rebel forces.

Read the full story over at World Now.

Photos: Ahmad Aboud, Daniel Leal-Olivas, Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images, Manu Brabo, Edlib News Network  / Associated Press

Growing protests attract tens of thousands across Brazil

For the fifth straight day, pent-up frustration has boiled over into protests over the Brazilian government’s skyrocketing expenditures in preparation for the upcoming World Cup and Summer Olympics, declining economic growth and a harsh response from police that has left hundreds injured.

In the city of Sao Paulo alone, an estimated 65,000 people clogged the streets for the “Free Fare Movement,” which has fought against a recent 10-cent hike in bus fares. 

For some perspective on the issue of transportation costs in the country:

Two weeks ago, the Sao Paulo bus fare for a standard one-way trip increased to about $1.50. Workers on minimum wage who take two buses a day can end up spending more than 25% of their monthly income on transportation.

See more from the protests over at Framework., and read more about the demonstrator’s grievances at World Now.

Photos: Marcelo Say’o / EPA, Victor R. Caivano / Associated Press, Christophe Simon / AFP/Getty Images

The wake of the overnight crackdown in Turkey

Reporter Glen Johnson reports from the scene in Istanbul:

A somber mood hangs over Gezi Park. Just 24 hours ago protesters danced to reggae music and studied together for university exams, sharing food and drink, an array of political views represented as demonstrators engaged in lively conversation.

Now there is stunned silence, following a night of chaos as police swept through the area firing water cannons and tear gas in the worst violence yet of the two-week protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Read more via World Now.

Photos: Vadim Ghirda / Associated Press, Gurcan Oztur, Angelos Tzortzinis, Bulent Kilic / AFP/Getty Images, Sedat Suna / EPA

Edward Snowden: From contractor to leaker

Plenty is now known about the National Security Agency programs that Snowden helped exposed last week in a series of leaks to the Guardian and Washington Post, and now his past is slowly being unearthed.

Snowden started life in Elizabeth City, a river port along North Carolina’s coast. His family soon moved to a gray clapboard home in Ellicott City, a Baltimore suburb near the NSA’s vast headquarters at Ft. Meade. He told the Guardian that he struggled in high school and eventually dropped out. A neighbor, Joyce Kinsey, recalled him as a quiet boy who often was on his computer.

Meanwhile, Snowden’s current location is unknown after he checked out of a ritzy Hong Kong hotel earlier this week, and his former employer Booz Allen Hamilton formally fired him today.

Read more on his past here.

Photos: Guardian / EPA, Mario Tama / Getty Images, 

Clashes between protesters, police intensify in Turkey

Turkish police intensified their efforts to disperse protesters in Taksim Square in Istanbul, launching a new offensive complete with tear gas and water cannons Tuesday. Protesters responded with rocks and Molotov cocktails, as the level of violence between the two escalated with no end in sight.

UPDATE:

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a harsh line in the sand Tuesday, calling on protesters to end their crusade as police continued their efforts to curb demonstrations:

"To those who … are at Taksim and elsewhere taking part in the demonstrations with sincere feelings, I call on you to leave those places and to end these incidents, and I send you my love…

But for those who want to continue with the incidents I say: ‘It’s over.’ As of now we have no tolerance for them.” 

Take a closer look at the demonstrations, and the government’s response, over at Framework.

Photos: Angelos Tzortzinis, Bulent Kilic, Aris Messinis / AFP/Getty Images, Kerim Okten / EPA

Meet Edward Snowden: The man behind the leaks
A former CIA employee and defense contractor, Snowden revealed his identity to the world earlier today, putting an end to speculation as to who leaked secret government surveillance programs to the Guardian and Washington Post.
The 29-year-old is currently holed up in Hong Kong as the controversy over the various revelations he divulged continues. And though he is wary of the U.S. government reaching for him, he’s said he never intended to remain anonymous. As he told the Post:

“Allowing the United States government to intimidate its people with threats of retaliation for revealing wrongdoing is contrary to the public interest.”

Political figures attacked and praised the leaks on the Sunday shows, with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) notably calling for Americans to sign up with a class-action lawsuit to challenge the government’s activities.
Read more over at Politics Now.
Photo: Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian / Associated Presss

Meet Edward Snowden: The man behind the leaks

A former CIA employee and defense contractor, Snowden revealed his identity to the world earlier today, putting an end to speculation as to who leaked secret government surveillance programs to the Guardian and Washington Post.

The 29-year-old is currently holed up in Hong Kong as the controversy over the various revelations he divulged continues. And though he is wary of the U.S. government reaching for him, he’s said he never intended to remain anonymous. As he told the Post:

“Allowing the United States government to intimidate its people with threats of retaliation for revealing wrongdoing is contrary to the public interest.”

Political figures attacked and praised the leaks on the Sunday shows, with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) notably calling for Americans to sign up with a class-action lawsuit to challenge the government’s activities.

Read more over at Politics Now.

Photo: Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian / Associated Presss