NSA leaker Edward Snowden withdraws asylum request to Russia, faces hurdles in Europe

MOSCOW (AP) NSA leaker Edward Snowden's attempts to seek refuge outside the United States hit hurdles Tuesday, after Russian media reported he canceled his asylum bid in Russia and several European countries said such applications wouldn't be considered if they were made from abroad.

Russian news agencies Tuesday quoted President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that Snowden withdrew his request when he learned about the terms Moscow has set out. Putin said on Monday that Russia is ready to shelter Snowden as long as he stops leaking U.S. secrets.

At the same time, Putin said he had no plans to turn over Snowden to the United States.

Several of the other countries where the WikiLeaks says Snowden has applied for asylum have said he cannot apply from abroad. Officials in Germany, Norway, Austria, Poland, Finland and Switzerland all said he must make his request on their soil.

WikiLeaks said requests have also been made to Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Iceland, India, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Spain and Venezuela.

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Obama defends US spying on Europe, others as normal for all nations; Europeans not amused

WASHINGTON (AP) President Barack Obama had a simple answer to European outrage over new allegations that the U.S. spies on its allies: The Europeans do it too.

Obama said Monday during his trip to Africa that every intelligence service in Europe, Asia and elsewhere does its best to understand the world better, and that goes beyond what they read in newspapers or watch on TV. It was an attempt to blunt European reaction to new revelations from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden that the U.S. spies on European governments.

"If that weren't the case, then there'd be no use for an intelligence service," Obama told reporters in Tanzania.

"And I guarantee you that in European capitals, there are people who are interested in, if not what I had for breakfast, at least what my talking points might be should I end up meeting with their leaders," Obama said. "That's how intelligence services operate."

European spies have been spying on the U.S. for years, according to two former intelligence officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss espionage programs. They said such spying includes tracking senior U.S. officials to see what they are doing in countries like France and Germany, which have both complained bitterly about the EU reports.

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Egypt's military says it will intervene in 48 hours unless Morsi meets protester demands

CAIRO (AP) Egypt's military issued a "last-chance" ultimatum Monday to President Mohammed Morsi, giving him 48 hours to meet the demands of millions of protesters in the streets seeking the ouster of the Islamist leader or the generals will intervene and impose their own plan for the country.

The military's statement, read on state TV, put enormous pressure on Morsi to step down and sent giant crowds opposing the president in Cairo and other cities into delirious celebrations of singing, dancing and fireworks. But the ultimatum raised worries on both sides the military could outright take over, as it did after the 2011 ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

It also raised the risk of a backlash from Morsi's Islamist backers, including his powerful Muslim Brotherhood and hard-liners, some of whom once belonged to armed militant groups. Already they vowed to resist what they depicted as a threat of a coup against a legitimately elected president.

Pro-Morsi marches numbering in the several thousands began after nightfall in a string of cities around the country, sparking clashes in some places. An alliance of the Brotherhood and Islamists read a statement at a televised conference calling on people to rally to prevent "any attempt to overturn" Morsi's election.

"Any coup of any kind against legitimacy will only pass over our dead bodies," one leading Brotherhood figure, Mohammed el-Beltagi, told a rally by thousands of Islamists outside a mosque near the Ittihadiya presidential palace.

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Obama and George W. Bush find common ground far from home at Tanzania memorial

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AP) Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican predecessor President George W. Bush found common ground in Africa on Tuesday, honoring the victims of a terrorist attack in an unprecedented chance encounter a world away from home.

The U.S. presidents had a brief, silent appearance together at a monument to victims of the 1998 embassy bombing here in the east African city where Bush coincidentally happened to be as Obama wrapped up a weeklong tour of the continent. While the two U.S. leaders didn't say anything publicly, their wives engaged in a warm and chatty joint appearance at a summit on African women.

Initially the two presidents weren't even planning to meet while in town, but first lady Michelle Obama joked as she sat next to her predecessor: "They're learning from us."

The Obamas departed Africa for home shortly after crossing paths with the Bushes, who were hosting the summit promoting the role of African first ladies in bringing change to their countries. Bush ended up joining the current president for the wreath-laying ceremony honoring the Tanzanian victims of the simultaneous attacks at the U.S. embassies here and in Kenya masterminded by Osama bin Laden.

The two presidents bowed their heads as a Marine placed the wreath of red, white and blue flowers in front of the large stone memorial on the grounds of the new U.S. Embassy. After a few moments, they shook hands with survivors of the attack and relatives of those killed before walking back into the embassy together in private discussion.

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Kerry: US, Russia want transitional government set up for Syria 'sooner than later'

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei (AP) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says both the U.S. and Russia are seriously committed to holding an international conference to set up a transitional government to end the Syrian crisis.

Kerry says the two countries both believe the meeting should take sooner rather than later, but acknowledged it might not be possible until August or later.

Kerry spoke outside the U.S. Embassy in Brunei after a 90-minute-plus meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of an Asian security summit.

Russia has been a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad regime's in the two-year civil war that has claimed more than 93,000 lives.

Kerry said the objectives of both countries remain the same to "save the state of Syria and to minimize destruction."

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Love of 'hard work' and 'arduous adventure' lured elite Arizona fire crew to 'hotshot' world

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) They were fathers and expectant fathers. High school football players and former Marines. Smoke-eaters' sons and first-generation firefighters.

What bound the members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots together was a "love of hard work and arduous adventure," and a willingness to risk their lives to protect others. And now, 19 families share a bond of grief.

All but one of the Prescott-based crew's 20 members died Sunday when a wind-whipped wildfire overran them on a mountainside north of Phoenix. It was the nation's biggest loss of firefighters in a wildfire in 80 years and the deadliest single day for fire crews since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

In the firefighting world, "Hotshot" is the name given to those willing to go to the hottest part of a blaze. They are the best of the best, crews filled with adventure-seekers whose hard training ready them for the worst.

"We are routinely exposed to extreme environmental conditions, long work hours, long travel hours and the most demanding of fireline tasks," the group's website says. "Comforts such as beds, showers and hot meals are not always common."

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Splits on immigration, cracks on gay marriage offer early preview of 2016 GOP primary

WASHINGTON (AP) Pivotal developments on two cultural issues immigration reform and gay marriage offer an early preview of potential fault lines among Republicans weighing White House bids in 2016.

When the Senate approved a comprehensive immigration reform measure, Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky voted in opposite directions amid divisions in the party over how to curb the fast-growing flow of Latino voters to Democrats.

At the same time, the Supreme Court rulings supporting gay marriage attracted broad criticism from most 2016 hopefuls, though Paul suggested that Republicans need to "agree to disagree on some of these issues." That foreshadows likely fissures ahead, as Republican contenders face increasing pressure to show more tolerance toward gay marriage with many Republican voters in their 20s, 30s and 40s calling for acceptance.

Taken together, the issues offer an early test for a Republican Party looking for a White House winner after back-to-back Democratic victories and seeking to transform itself amid rapidly changing public opinion toward acceptance on these and other cultural matters.

Republican strategists say both topics serve as gateway issues for many voters. If the party's tone on immigration or gay marriage sounds too intolerant, they say, it could prevent voters from listening on other issues.

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Taliban hit NATO supply compound in Kabul, kill 6 in latest high-profile attack in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) Taliban suicide attackers blew up a truck bomb early Tuesday at the gates of a NATO supply company's compound in Kabul and sprayed gunfire at security personnel, killing four guards and two civilians, Afghan officials said.

The morning attack was the latest in a series targeting high-profile locations in the Afghan capital. The attacks have made clear the Taliban have no intention of ending the violence, even as they say they are willing to enter peace negotiations.

Tuesday's attack started before dawn, when a suicide bomber drove a small truck to the outer gate of the logistics center used to supply NATO troops and detonated it. The explosion made a massive crater in the ground and damaged a guard tower, said Kabul provincial police chief Mohammad Ayuob Salangi.

Two truck drivers waiting nearby to enter the compound were also killed in the blast, along with the bomber.

Three gunmen then stormed into the breach and battled with security guards for more than an hour before being killed. Four Nepalese security guards were also killed, Salangi said.

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Officials in the Florida Keys stop debating sea level rise, start adjusting infrastructure

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) Hurricane storm surge can inundate the narrow, low-lying Florida Keys, but that is far from the only water worry for officials.

A tidal gauge operating since before the Civil War has documented a sea level rise of 9 inches in the last century, and officials expect that to double over the next 50 years. So when building a new Stock Island fire station, county authorities went ahead added a foot and a half over federal flood planning directives that the ground floor be built up 9 feet.

Seasonal tidal flooding that was once a rare inconvenience is now so predictable that some businesses at the end of Key West's famed Duval Street stock sandbags just inside their front doors, ready anytime.

"It's really easy to see during our spring high tides that the sea level is coming up for whatever reason and we have to accommodate for that," said Johnnie Yongue, the on-site technician at the fire station for Monroe County's project management department.

While New York City's mayor was announcing a dramatic multibillion-dollar plan for flood walls and levees to hold back rising water levels there, sea walls like those that encase the Netherlands wouldn't help much in the Keys, as a lack of coastal barriers isn't the island chain's only problem.

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Paul staying in Los Angeles with Clippers, teams lining up to persuade Howard to leave

Chris Paul's answer was brief, just like his time on the free agent market.

"I'M IN!!!" he wrote Monday on Twitter.

He will be staying with the Clippers, the longtime losers he helped turned into a division champion in just two seasons.

Dwight Howard will need more time to think.

Free agency opened Monday in the NBA with the focus on the pair of Los Angeles All-Stars, though Paul took himself off the market only hours after shopping season started.