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August 10, 2013

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Obama: Will work for ‘appropriate’ changes in NSA spying

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama promised Friday to work with Congress on “appropriate reforms” for the domestic surveillance programs that have stirred criticism at home and abroad, and said it is time to recalibrate the United States’ relationship with Russia, which is harboring NSA secrets leaker Edward Snowden.

“It’s not enough for me to have confidence in these programs,” the president declared of NSA domestic intelligence-gathering programs at a White House news conference, one day before his scheduled departure on a weeklong vacation. “The American people have to have confidence in them as well.”

The president announced a series of changes in a program begun under the anti-terror Patriot Act that was passed in the wake of the attacks of Sept, 11, 2001. But none of the moves would alter the basic core of the program, the collection of millions of Americans’ phone records.

As for Snowden, recently granted temporary asylum by Russia, Obama said he is not a patriot, as some have suggested, and challenged him to return to the United States to face espionage charges.

On Russia, Obama said that given recent differences over Syria, human rights and Snowden, it is “probably appropriate for us to take a pause, reassess where it is that Russia is going ... and recalibrate the relationship.”

Yemen officials say 7 Saudi militants killed in US drone strikes

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — At least seven suspected militants from Saudi Arabia were among the alleged al-Qaida members killed in Yemen in a recent wave of U.S. drone strikes, senior Yemeni officials said Friday, suggesting that Saudis are increasingly crossing the border to carry funds or seek terrorist training.

With several U.S. diplomatic posts closed temporarily in Africa and the Middle East this week amid a global alert about terrorism, Washington evacuated most of its personnel from Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city. The U.S., along with Britain, also flew diplomatic staff out of Yemen’s capital of Sanaa this week.

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