Egypt's Morsi says he'll form national unity gov't, defies army ultimatum

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Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, in a speech to the nation, announced that he will form a government of national unity and a committee to amend the Constitution.

He said that the initiative - announced on the eve of a possible military intervention in the political sphere - includes approaching the country's political forces to gear up to hold legislative elections within six months to reform the Constitution.

In his address, Morsi said that "there is no alternative to legitimacy" and he urged Egyptians never to use violence against the army, after the military on Monday had given Morsi 48 hours to "attend to the demands of the people" or it would intervene politically.

The Islamist president said that the country is confronting the "challenge of the followers of the old regime" of strongman Hosni Mubarak, who "want to manipulate the rage of the youths, who have a right to be angry."

Morsi said repeatedly in his speech that he possesses constitutional legitimacy as an elected leader and that, therefore, he is not considering resigning.

He urged Egyptians not to shed the blood of their countrymen and noted that jihad, or holy war, could only be declared against the "country's enemies."

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Snowden drops bid for asylum in Russia

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Edward Snowden rescinded his application for political asylum in Russia and appeared to be running out of options as he remained stuck in the transit area at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport.

The former CIA employee and government contractor who has provided documents exposing the U.S. National Security Agency's massive surveillance of global telephonic and Internet communications arrived in Moscow on June 23 from Hong Kong.

Washington, which is charging Snowden under the 1917 Espionage Act, revoked his U.S. passport, leaving him unable to board a commercial flight unless some other government provides him with travel documents.

Though authorities in Moscow declined to speculate on why Snowden withdrew his asylum request, it seems likely he was deterred by Russian President Vladimir Putin's statement that approval would be conditioned on the applicant's willingness to forgo making any further revelations about the U.S. government.

The 29-year-old American has sought asylum from a score of countries.

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19 Dead in Russia helicopter crash

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Nineteen people died when a civilian Mi-8 helicopter with 28 people aboard crashed in the eastern Russian republic of Yakutia, the CEA aviation authority said.

Rescue services are seeking the helicopter which, authorities said, plunged to earth after its rotor clipped a mountainside.

"The helicopter crashed against the slope of a mountain and fell to the ground," said the spokesman for the Yakutia regional administration, Anatoly Skribikin.

He added that among the passengers were "eight children under age 8 and three ... under age 3."

"The approximate site of the accident is known, but the helicopter is not there. We have not located the Mi-8 due to the low clouds and the poor visibility," the Interfax news agency quoted the spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry as saying.

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7 Dead in Taliban attack in Afghan capital

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At least seven people died in an attack by a Taliban suicide squad on the Kabul headquarters of a company that supplies the NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, the capital's police chief told Efe.

The attack occurred at 4 a.m. and resulted in the deaths of four Nepalese security guards, an Afghan security guard and two Afghan civilians, Ayub Salangi said.

The attack was launched by four insurgent suicide bombers wearing explosive vests, but only one of them was able to blow himself up. The others died in a shootout lasting an hour with Afghan security forces, the police chief said.

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India launches navigation satellite into orbit

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India launched the first satellite of its own navigation system similar to GPS, a system that will begin operating in 2015.

The rocket carrying the satellite lifted off at 11:41 p.m. Tuesday from the Sriharikota base, said the Indian Space Research Organization in a communique on its Web page.

"India has entered a new era of space applications," ISRO chief K. Radhakrishnan told the IANS news agency.

This is the first of seven satellites that will make up the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, or IRNSS. It is designed to operate for 10 years in orbit.

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More than 2,000 nabbed in multinational drug operation along Mekong River

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A two-month-long joint police operation conducted by China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand on the Mekong River led to the arrests of 2,534 suspects and the seizure of roughly nine tons of drugs, the Chinese government said.

Authorities also confiscated 38 guns, 1,125 rounds of ammunition, 260 tons of drug-precursor chemicals and some $3.6 million in cash, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing China's counternarcotics chief, Liu Yuejing.

The operation revealed that traffickers were using handicapped, pregnant or elderly people to transport drugs in an attempt to avoid police scrutiny.

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Brazilian gov't pushes for referendum on political reforms

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The administration of President Dilma Rousseff formally asked Brazil's Congress to convene a referendum on a wide-ranging political overhaul.

Rousseff, who proposed the plebiscite in response to protests that have rocked Brazil for nearly a month wants voters to have input on how politics operates in the giant South American nation.

The request for a referendum was delivered to Congress by Vice President Michel Temer and Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo, who stressed that lawmakers will have the final word on holding the plebiscite and the content of proposals put before the voters.

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EFE