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Edward Snowden: U.S. officials are preventing me claiming asylum

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by Peter Walker, The Guardian

The NSA surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden has said US officials are waging a campaign to prevent him from taking up asylum offers as he called a meeting in Moscow airport with human rights groups.

In a letter sent to groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the former intelligence agency contractor claimed there was “an unlawful campaign by officials in the US government to deny my right to seek and enjoy … asylum under article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and invited them to meet him at 5pm local time.

“The scale of threatening behaviour is without precedent: never before in history have states conspired to force to the ground a sovereign president’s plane to effect a search for a political refugee,” he wrote to the groups. “This dangerous escalation represents a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America or my own personal security, but to the basic right shared by every living person to live free from persecution.”

Reuters quoted an airport official as saying Snowden would meet the groups on Friday afternoon in the transit area of Sheremetyevo, where he has remained since flying to Russia from Hong Kong on 23 June.

The 30-year-old former NSA employee is trying to negotiate asylum elsewhere to avoid facing charges in the US, including espionage, for divulging details about US electronic surveillance programmes.

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“I can confirm that such a meeting will take place,” an airport spokeswoman said.

Reuters said Amnesty and Transparency International had been invited to meet Snowden, with the former confirming it would attend.

Sergei Nikitin, the head of Amnesty International Russia, said: “Yes, I have received a brief email. It said that he would like to meet with a representative of a human rights organisation – there was not much information there. I’m planning to go.”

Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch confirmed she had been invited to the meeting and posted Snowden’s letter on Facebook.

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Snowden is still believed to be weighing up his options. Late on Thursday, Venezuela’s foreign minister said the country had yet to receive a formal response to its offer of asylum.

“We communicated last week. We made an offer and so far we haven’t received a reply,” Elias Jaua told Reuters during a regional foreign ministers’ meeting in Uruguay.

Venezuela is one of three countries to offer asylum to Snowden, along with Bolivia and Nicaragua.

In a separate email to Reuters, Snowden confirmed that the meeting with human rights groups would go ahead but said it would be closed to the press. He said he planned to speak to the media later.

The letter told the groups to bring identification and meet at 4.30pm at Sheremetyevo airport in Terminal F, “in the centre of the arrival hall [where] someone from airport staff will be waiting there to receive you with a sign labelled G9”.

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A historian explains why 2019 marks the beginning of the next 74-year cycle of American history

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A century ago, historian Arthur Schlesinger, Sr. argued that history occurs in cycles. His son, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., furthered this theory in his own scholarship. As I reflect on Schlesinger’s work and the history of the United States, it seems clear to me that American history has three 74-year-long cycles. America has had four major crisis turning points, each 74 years apart, from the time of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 to today.

The first such crisis occurred when the Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia in 1787 to face the reality that the government created by the Articles of Confederation was failing. There was a dire need for a new Constitution and a guarantee of a Bill of Rights to save the American Republic. The founding fathers, under the leadership of George Washington, were equal to the task and the American experiment successfully survived the crisis.

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Self-preservation fuels the Democratic base’s lurch to the left — before the rich take it all

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In 2016 all the corporate news media outlets, NPR included, predicted that Trump would lose. They just did not recognize the discontent in America’s rust belt because the economic dislocation that had, and continues to define life there, was just not part of their personal frame of reference.

They thought the country was several years into a recovery and the national aggregate unemployment data they had commissioned confirmed it. But nobody lives or votes in the aggregate. And it wasn’t until Trump flipped the 200 counties that Obama had carried twice, that the corporate news media started paying some attention.

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Experts discuss the distorted impeachment debate at a propaganda forum — and how real debate can untangle it

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“Would you be upset if the Democratic nominee called on China to help in the next presidential election?” That’s the concrete question we should ask ourselves about Robert Mueller's report and the issue of impeachment, according to University of California, Santa Cruz, social psychologist Anthony Pratkanis, speaking at a recent Zócalo Public Square event, “Is Propaganda Keeping Americans From Thinking for Themselves?

This was a week before President Trump’s interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, apparently welcoming foreign interference in the 2020 election. Impeachment wasn’t the ostensible subject of the event — which also featured Texas A&M historian of rhetoric Jennifer Mercieca and UCLA marketing scholar and psychologist Hal Hershfield — but it was never far from mind.

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