Ecuador confirms Snowden has filed asylum request

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Former CIA employee Edward Snowden has filed a request for asylum in Ecuador, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño said.

The 30-year-old Snowden cited "danger of persecution" by the U.S. government in his asylum request, Patiño said in a videoconference from Hanoi, where he is on an official trip.

Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong in early June after leaking documents about two top-secret National Security Agency surveillance programs to Britain's Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post, asked Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa for political asylum.

The former CIA technician and NSA contractor flew from Hong Kong to Russia on Sunday, a day after the United States requested his extradition on espionage and other charges.

Snowden could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

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Obama urges Senate to pass immigration reform by big margin

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President Barack Obama asked the U.S. Senate to approve immigration reform by a big margin to spur the House of Representatives to do likewise.

"I would urge the Senate to bring this to the floor, and I hope that we can get the strongest possible vote out of the Senate so that we can then move to the House and get this done before the summer break," he told business leaders prior to the start of an immigration reform roundtable at the White House.

"And if we get this done - when we get this done - I think every business leader here feels confident that they'll be in a stronger position to continue to innovate, to continue to invest, to continue to create jobs, and ensure that this continues to be the land of opportunity for generations to come," Obama said.

"Now is the time to get this done," the president said, again prodding lawmakers to approve a law allowing the legalization of - and eventual receipt of citizenship by - the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.

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Brazil's Rousseff proposes referendum on political overhaul

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President Dilma Rousseff proposed that a referendum on broad political reforms be held in response to the wave of protests that has shaken Brazil over the past two weeks.

The president said the proposal embraces four national pacts addressing the political, healthcare, education and transport systems, which are at the root of demands made by crowds that have occupied the streets of Brazil's major cities.

The referendum should lead to "a specific constitutional process for political reform," Rousseff said at a meeting in the presidential palace with 27 state governors and the mayors of 26 cities.

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Car bombs kill at least 29 in Iraq

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At least 29 people died and 124 others were wounded - most of them members of the country's Shi'ite majority - in a series of car bomb attacks in different Baghdad neighborhoods, an Iraqi police source told Efe.

The source said that the deadliest attack came in the Al Husseiniya zone, in the northeast part of the capital, where at least four people died and eight others were seriously injured.

The second car bomb detonated near the Al Warda market in downtown Baghdad, killing at least three people and wounding 12.

Among the other attacks, three people also died and another 19 were wounded when two car bombs blew up in the Al Jihad neighborhood in southwest Baghdad.

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Supremes send affirmative action case back to lower court

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The U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on the University of Texas' use of race in deciding admissions, sending the case back to a lower court for reconsideration.

Monday's 7-1 decision overturns a ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of UT's plan.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the 5th Circuit did not evaluate the UT admissions process against the standards established in a 2003 Supreme Court decision permitting affirmative action in higher education.

The lone dissenter, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said the 5th Circuit correctly applied the relevant laws and jurisprudence.

The case originated in 2008 with a suit on behalf of Abigail Noel Fisher, a white applicant who did not gain acceptance to UT.

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Berlusconi sentenced to 7 years in jail for Ruby case

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Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse of power and luring minors into prostitution in a case involving a young Moroccan woman known as Ruby.

The verdict, which is subject to two levels of appeal, includes a lifetime ban on Berlusconi's holding public office.

On trial was Berlusconi's suspected luring of minors into prostitution by maintaining paid sexual relations with Karima El Marough, alias Ruby, when she was under 18, while the abuse of power charge was based on the call he made to a Milan police station to demand the girl's release after she committed a robbery.

"This sentence has no connection with reality nor with legal procedures. The court was not concerned about reality," Berlusconi's lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini, told reporters as he left Milan's Palace of Justice.

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8 Indian soldiers die in insurgent attack in Kashmir

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At least eight soldiers died and 19 were wounded in an insurgent attack on a military convoy on the outskirts of Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, police told the media.

The attackers opened fire on a military vehicle from both sides of the highway in the area of Hyderpora and later fled the scene in a car with tinted windows, a senior police officer said in comments cited by the PTI news agency.

The ambush came a day before the visit to the conflict-ridden region by Indian Prime Minister Manmohen Singh and the leader of the ruling Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi.

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7 Afghan police killed in landmine blast

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Seven police officers died when their vehicle ran over a landmine and was blown up in the southern province of Uruzgan, an Afghan official told Efe.

The police vehicle was destroyed by the mine Sunday morning in the Charmastan area of the Chinarato district, the provincial deputy governor, Gul Khan Wardak, said.

"Seven national police died in the explosion," Wardak said, adding that the landmine was planted by the Taliban.

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EFE