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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid greets Nettie Washington Douglass, descendant of Frederick Douglass, after a ceremony honoring Frederick Douglas next to his statue inside the U.S. Capitol in Washington June 19, 2013. (Molly Riley/MCT)

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Nation/world briefs

  • June 19, 2013 - 8:23 PM

Washington

FBI chief: Don’t end NSA program

Robert Mueller, the director of the FBI, warned that dismantling the National Security Agency’s once-secret program that is keeping records of billions of domestic phone calls by Americans would slow down investigators as they seek to stop terrorist attacks. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mueller addressed a proposal to require telephone companies to retain calling logs for five years — the period the NSA is keeping them — for investigators to consult, rather than allowing the government to collect and store them all. He cautioned that it would take time to subpoena the companies for numbers of interest. “The point being that it will take an awful long time,” Mueller said.

Iceland

Assange seeks to help Snowden

WikiLeaks activists in Iceland are discussing with government officials the possibility of asylum for Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed hundreds of classified documents on NSA surveillance, said Julian Assange, the founder of the anti-secrecy group. Assange said both the legal and practical obstacles were under review by Snowden’s lawyers and supporters.

brazil

Amid anger, fare increase reversed

Leaders in Brazil’s two biggest cities said that they reversed a 10-cent increase in bus and subway fares that ignited anti-government protests that have spread across the nation in the past week. Many people doubted the move would quiet the demonstrations, which have moved well beyond outrage over the fare hikes into communal cries against poor public services in Latin America’s biggest nation. Some activists said that seeing money poured into soccer stadiums for the current Confederations Cup and next year’s World Cup only added fuel to the people’s anger. Two major marches are planned for Thursday.

Egypt

Cleric: Peaceful protests are OK

Egypt’s top Muslim cleric declared Wednesday that peaceful protests against the president are permitted, in a snub to hard-line Islamist backers of Mohammed Morsi who declared that those behind opposition protests planned for June 30 are heretics. In a statement, Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of the Al-Azhar mosque, stuck strictly to the question of whether Islam allows the protests — while underlining that they must remain peaceful — without weighing in one way or another on their political substance.

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