Infamous whistleblower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden was granted three more years of temporary residency by Russia, his lawyer announced Thursday. Russia had granted Snowden one year of temporary asylum last year, but that expired on Aug. 1.
Snowden is wanted by the United States on espionage charges, but because Russia does not have an extradition treaty with the United States, it has refused to hand Snowden back to American authorities. Russia's acceptance of Snowden last year sparked increasing tensions between Russia and the U.S. — even before this year's conflicts over the annexation of Crimea and separatists in eastern Ukraine. Add this to the latest round of sanction-swapping and it doesn't seem this modern Cold War is warming up any time soon. Kimberly Alters
The results are in from drug giant Merck's most recent trial of a vaccine for Ebola — and they look pretty good:
The vaccine was 100 percent effective when it was tested on more than 4,000 people who were in close contact with Ebola patients in the African nation of Guinea, the World Health Organization said, citing a study published today in the Lancet medical journal. The trial of the vaccine, called Ebola ca suffit — "Ebola, that’s enough" in French — began on March 23. [Bloomberg]
A panel overseeing the trial says a late-stage trial of the vaccine should proceed.
The chair of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), seems to be having a bit of trouble defining her own party. Speaking with MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Hardball, she appeared confused by his question concerning if self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders would be allowed to speak at the Democratic convention.
"Bernie Sanders has been a good Democrat," Wasserman-Schultz said as Matthews barraged her with questions. "Of course he should speak."
"Speak in primetime?' Matthews continued, to Wasserman-Schultz's increasing confusion. He finally insisted to know the difference between Democrats and socialists, leaving Wasserman-Schultz looking utterly baffled.
"I used to think there was a big difference," Matthews said. "What do you think?"
"The real question is, what's the difference between being a Democrat and being a Republican?" Wasserman-Schultz said, attempting to dodge the question.
“Okay, but what’s the big difference between a Democrat and a socialist?” Matthews persisted. “You're the chairwoman of the Democratic Party. Tell me the difference between you and a socialist.”
“The relevant debate that we’ll be having over the course of this campaign is, what's the difference between being a Democrat and being a Republican," Wasserman-Schultz said again.
Matthews finally threw up his hands. "I think there's a huge difference."
Watch the whole thing unfold below. Jeva Lange
Mitt Romney said Ted Cruz was 'hurting' the GOP. Cruz scoffed back that Romney got 'clobbered' in 2012.
After GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz charged earlier this week that the Iran nuclear deal would make President Obama the leading sponsor of global terrorism, the GOP's 2012 nominee pushed back on Twitter:
I am opposed to the Iran deal, but @SenTedCruz is way over the line on the Obama terrorism charge. Hurts the cause.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) July 30, 2015
The Texas senator was having none of it. On air with KFYO’s Chad Hasty, Cruz responded to the tweet with a couple words aimed especially at Romney — and his failed 2012 campaign. (The relevant section starts around the 12-minute mark.)
"Now it's interesting, in the past couple of weeks we've seen both Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, both of them talking about, 'Now take it easy, guys, you don't really need to oppose this Iranian nuclear deal quite so forcefully,'" Cruz told Hasty. "You know, it's interesting, two days ago, or three days ago, President Obama was in Africa. And he chose to attack me directly for saying that if this deal goes through, the Obama administration will become the leading global financier of radical Islamic terrorism. And he attacked me personally. But you know what he didn't do? He didn't disagree with the facts."
Cruz went on: "The unavoidable consequence of those facts is if this deal goes through, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry will be the leading global financiers of radical Islamic terrorism on the face of the Earth."
"One of the reasons Republicans keep getting clobbered, is we have leaders, like Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, who are afraid to say that," Cruz added.
Cruz pointed to Romney's failed 2012 campaign against Obama as proof. "We all remember that third debate where Barack Obama turned to Mitt and said, 'I said the Benghazi attack was terrorism and no one is more upset by Benghazi than I am,'" Cruz said. "And Mitt, I guess listening to his own advice, said, 'Gosh, I don't want to use any rhetoric so okay, never mind, I'll just kind of rearrange the pencil on the podium here.' We need to stand up and speak the truth with a smile. The truth has power." Jeva Lange
Jon Stewart is keeping things especially friendly in his last episodes of The Daily Show, which will air next week. Fellow comedians Amy Schumer, Denis Leary, and Louis C.K. will be joining him on stage as his final guests, he announced Thursday.
The guests aren't exactly a giant surprise, as they're all Stewart's friends. Earlier this year, Schumer reportedly turned down an offer to take over The Daily Show after Stewart's departure (the job eventually went to Trevor Noah). Stewart has said in the past that Leary and C.K. are two of his favorite guests.
Not much else is known yet about Stewart's finale, which will air on Thursday Aug. 6. Pretty much all we know so far is that it will run an extended 50 minutes, and the lead-up will consist of a day-long Comedy Central marathon of old episodes, beginning at 10:30 a.m. But don't let that deter you from running with some additional rumors: The Washington Post, for example, suggests that Stephen Colbert might be making an appearance. Jeva Lange
Jewish arsonists are believed to be responsible for torching a Palestinian home in the West Bank on Friday, killing an 18-month-old toddler and injuring three other family members inside. Israel's prime minister has called the attack an act of terrorism.
The suspected Jewish attackers wrote "revenge" outside the house in Hebrew, and threw fire bombs inside the home just before dawn, marking the worst attack by Israeli aggressors since a Palestinian teenager was set on fire in Jerusalem a year ago. The Palestinian group Hamas has called for retaliation for Friday's attack. Read more at Reuters. Jeva Lange
Amidst an eruption of internet fury over the killing of Zimbabwe's beloved Cecil the lion by American dentist Walter Palmer (who admits to killing Cecil, but contends that he thought it was legal), the African nation has asked the United States to extradite Palmer. Oppah Muchinguri, Zimbabwe's environment minister, charged that Palmer "had a well-orchestrated agenda which would tarnish the image of Zimbabwe and further strain the relationship between Zimbabwe and the U.S.A." Palmer has not been seen publicly since the controversy first erupted this week. U.S. officials have also launched an investigation of Palmer's hunt. Ben Frumin
The whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks charged that the U.S. has spent the past eight years or more spying on Japanese cabinet officials, banks, and other companies, the BBC reports. The National Security Agency apparently targeted at least 35 Japanese telephone numbers, including those linked to the Bank of Japan, Mitsubishi, and government ministries and offices. The U.S. allegedly snooped on discussions on trade, climate change policy, and nuclear policies. The U.S. also allegedly got intel on a confidential briefing that took place in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's residence.