Edward Snowden departed Hong Kong this morning after endearing himself to many in the territory. (Vincent Yu/AP)
The already tense Edward Snowden situation got a lot more interesting this morning, as the man responsible for leaking secret NSA documents departed Hong Kong for Moscow and formally requested asylum from Ecuador. As the world waits to see what happens next, it's worth taking a look at the fascinating statement released by the Hong Kong government explaining why, exactly, the territory didn't try to stop Snowden from leaving. Here's the full text of the statement:
Mr Edward Snowden left Hong Kong today (June 23) on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel.
The US Government earlier on made a request to the HKSAR Government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden. Since the
documents provided by the US Government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR Government has requested the US
Government to provide additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the US Government's request can meet the relevant
legal conditions. As the HKSAR Government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no
legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.
The HKSAR Government has already informed the US Government of Mr Snowden's departure.
Meanwhile, the HKSAR Government has formally written to the US Government requesting clarification on earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems
in Hong Kong by US government agencies. The HKSAR Government will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of
There appear to be two possibilities in regards to what actually happened. One is that Hong Kong never intended to extradite Snowden to the United States in the first place and concocted this non-compliance story as a face-saving gesture, a theory suggested by Amy Davidson of the New Yorker. The second possibility is that the story is actually true: The United States botched the extradition procedure over a logistical matter and Hong Kong had no choice but to let Snowden board his flight to Moscow.
Whichever scenario is true, it's difficult to interpret this statement as anything other than an artfully worded "screw you" to the United States. Hong Kong understandably isn't pleased with Snowden's revelations of U.S. spying in the territory, as the last paragraph of the statement indicates. But still -- this defiance of the United States, with which Hong Kong had negotiated an extradition treaty, is extraordinary and somewhat unexpected.
So why is Hong Kong doing this? One reason is this: Edward Snowden's arrival in Hong Kong highlighted a burgeoning sense of identity in the territory, which has become increasingly wary of Chinese interference in its political life. For Snowden, Hong Kong's relative independence was its chief selling point: the former defense contractor praised the territory for its tradition of free speech and expressed a willingness to put his fate in the hands of Hong Kong's independent judiciary. And while the territory's leaders waited for the United States to request extradition, many hundreds of its citizens gathered downtown to rally in support of Snowden -- and Hong Kong's autonomy. With a major protest scheduled for July 1st -- the 16th anniversary of Britain's handover of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China -- Hong Kong's leaders are understandably wary of inflaming an already tense political atmosphere.
Then, of course, there's China, which has mostly held its tongue during Snowden's Hong Kong exile. The nationalistic newspaper Global Times published an editorial today expressing satisfaction with the whole situation and wishing Snowden well. Beijing is no doubt pleased with how everything has turned out. But in the long term, Hong Kong's growing sense of political identity is an issue that will keep China's Communist leaders awake at night. Today's defiance of the United States is tomorrow's with a nearer, more closely connected, neighbor.
The comparatively less flashy, less spirited former First Kid managed to show her mom’s softer side at the DNC on Thursday.
Yes, yes, yes. Chelsea Clinton is not the most charismatic orator—as the Twittersphere was happy to point out during her brief address on Thursday night. She is like her mother that way. There’s something not quite natural about her self-presentation. She’s not stilted, exactly. But she can come across as too cautious, too reserved, too conscious of other people’s eyes upon her.
But, let’s face it, as the lead-in to Hillary’s big nominating speech, a little bit of boring was called for. Unlike some of this convention’s high-wattage speakers, there was zero chance Chelsea was going to upstage Hillary with a barnburner or tear-jerker. Chelsea wasn’t there to pump up the crowd. Her role was to comfort, to explain, to cajole, with an eye toward giving Americans a glimpse of her mother’s softer side.
A church facing setbacks elsewhere finds an unlikely foothold.
At the end of 2013, in the low-slung, industrial Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung, a bevy of officials came to attend the ribbon cutting of a huge former hotel that had undergone a top-to-bottom, multimillion-dollar renovation. Speaking before the throngs of celebrants who blocked the flow of traffic, Taiwan’s deputy director of the Ministry of the Interior praised the group that funded the renovation and presented them, for the 10th year straight, with the national “Excellent Religious Group” award.
“For years you have dedicated your time and lives to anti-drug work and human- rights dissemination,” said the director, echoing praise offered by the mayor’s office and the president’s national-policy adviser.
Last night, in her overall very successful acceptance speech, Hillary Clinton said with ruthless precision about her opponent:
Ask yourself: Does Donald Trump have the temperament to be Commander-in-Chief?
Donald Trump can't even handle the rough-and-tumble of a presidential campaign.
He loses his cool at the slightest provocation. When he's gotten a tough question from a reporter. When he's challenged in a debate. When he sees a protestor at a rally. Emphasis added, as it was in her delivery:
Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis. A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.
I can't put it any better than Jackie Kennedy did after the Cuban Missile Crisis. She said that what worried President Kennedy during that very dangerous time was that a war might be started -- not by big men with self-control and restraint, but by little men -- the ones moved by fear and pride.
The father of a Muslim American who died in Iraq confronts Donald Trump.
Khizr Khan began his speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday with words I wish he didn’t have to say: “Tonight we are honored to stand here as parents of Captain Humayun Khan and as patriotic American Muslims—as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.”
I wish he and his wife didn’t have to stand there as the parents of a 27-year-old Army captain who was killed by suicide bombers while serving in the Iraq War. And I wish Khizr Khan hadn’t felt the need to declare his patriotism and loyalty to the United States of America. Those truths should have been self-evident.
The state of the union is not strong when an American feels compelled to clarify such things. In better times, Khizr Khan, who was born in Pakistan and moved to America from the United Arab Emirates, might have begun his speech with what he said next: “Like many immigrants, we came to this country empty-handed. We believed in American democracy—that with hard work and [the] goodness of this country, we could share in and contribute to its blessings.”
In her acceptance speech, the Democratic nominee took on her Republican rival by throwing Donald Trump’s own words back at him.
The unicorn of American politics, the “real Hillary Clinton”—the Hillary Clinton I’ve known for nearly 30 years—that Hillary Clinton likes to wear low-heeled shoes to a butt-kicking.
“A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons,” she said of her Republican rival, Donald Trump, while accepting the Democratic presidential nomination, the first woman in U.S. history to head a major-party ticket.
It was a sound bite for the ages, searing and on point.
“Do you really think Donald Trump has the temperament to be commander in chief?” she continued. “Donald Trump can’t even handle the rough and tumble of a presidential campaign. He loses his cool at the slightest provocation. Imagine, if you dare, imagine him in the Oval Office facing a crisis.”
Narcissism, disagreeableness, grandiosity—a psychologist investigates how Trump’s extraordinary personality might shape his possible presidency.
In 2006, Donald Trump made plans to purchase the Menie Estate, near Aberdeen, Scotland, aiming to convert the dunes and grassland into a luxury golf resort. He and the estate’s owner, Tom Griffin, sat down to discuss the transaction at the Cock & Bull restaurant. Griffin recalls that Trump was a hard-nosed negotiator, reluctant to give in on even the tiniest details. But, as Michael D’Antonio writes in his recent biography of Trump, Never Enough, Griffin’s most vivid recollection of the evening pertains to the theatrics. It was as if the golden-haired guest sitting across the table were an actor playing a part on the London stage.
“It was Donald Trump playing Donald Trump,” Griffin observed. There was something unreal about it.
U.S. officials are examining Russia’s involvement in a breach of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s computer system.
NEWS BRIEF U.S. officials suspect the Russian government hacked into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the second party organization to see a recent cyber attack. In a statement Friday, the DCCC—House Democrats’ campaign arm—confirmed the breach, which was first reported by Reuters on Thursday. “Based on the information we have to date, we’ve been advised by investigators that this is similar to other recent incidents,” namely, the prior infiltration of the Democratic National Committee’s email system.
U.S. officials had strongly suspected that the Russian government was involved in the DNC hack. That intrusion led to Wikileaks releasing thousands of emails from the committee’s staff, which seemed to show them favoring Hillary Clinton, and the resignation of party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. But they couldn’t confirm whether the hackers intended to influence the American election. This week’s revelation is sure to fuel suspicions that they did. “It’s definitely part of a much, much broader campaign that is yet to fully be publicly revealed,” a cybersecurity expert toldThe Washington Post. “It's part of a broader intelligence collection effort,” a source toldPolitico. “It's maybe an attempt to harvest credentials. ... It’s not an email grab like the DNC.”
The Fox host’s insistence that black laborers building the White House were “well-fed and had decent lodgings” fits in a long history of insisting the “peculiar institution” wasn’t so bad.
In her widely lauded speech at the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Michelle Obama reflected on the remarkable fact of her African American family living in the executive mansion. “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn,” she said.
On Tuesday, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly discussed the moment in his Tip of the Day. In a moment first noticed by the liberal press-tracking group Media Matters, O’Reilly said this:
As we mentioned, Talking Points Memo, Michelle Obama referenced slaves building the White House in referring to the evolution of America in a positive way. It was a positive comment. The history behind her remark is fascinating. George Washington selected the site in 1791, and as president laid the cornerstone in 1792. Washington was then running the country out of Philadelphia.
Slaves did participate in the construction of the White House. Records show about 400 payments made to slave masters between 1795 and 1801. In addition, free blacks, whites, and immigrants also worked on the massive building. There were no illegal immigrants at that time. If you could make it here, you could stay here.
In 1800, President John Adams took up residence in what was then called the Executive Mansion. It was only later on they named it the White House. But Adams was in there with Abigail, and they were still hammering nails, the construction was still going on.
Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802. However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor. So, Michelle Obama is essentially correct in citing slaves as builders of the White House, but there were others working as well. Got it all? There will be a quiz.
Can Hillary Clinton’s projection of steadiness resonate with an unsettled country?
PHILADELPHIA—It was a hot and stormy week at the Democratic convention, one that began with discord and ended with invocations of togetherness. “People are anxious and looking for reassurance,” Hillary Clinton, the newly anointed Democratic nominee, told a cheering convention crowd—“looking for steady leadership.”
This was the theme of speaker after speaker at the Democratic convention: steadiness, calm, shelter from the storm. The party’s stars took the stage one by one, railing against divisiveness and doomsaying and fear. They painted a picture of a new American normal: optimistic, stable, square, patriotic. A silent majority of tolerant, diverse, cosmopolitan people, hopeful and unthreatened by suspicion or difference. A transgender woman, an illegal immigrant, a Muslim veteran’s father: This, the convention asserted, is the face of a country that has been through the discombobulating wringer of social and demographic change, and come out the other side smiling and holding hands.
A federal appeals court finds the impact of the state’s voting law can only be explained by “discriminatory intent.”
DURHAM, N.C.—The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down key portions of North Carolina’s strict 2013 voting law on Friday, delivering a stern rebuke to the state’s Republican General Assembly and Governor Pat McCrory. The three-judge panel in Richmond, Virginia, concluded that the law was racially discriminatory, and it blocked a requirement that voters show photo identification to vote and restored same-day voter registration, a week of early voting, pre-registration for teenagers, and out-of-precinct voting.
“Faced with this record, we can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent,” wrote Judge Diana Gribbon Motz. “Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the district court to the contrary and remand with instructions to enjoin the challenged provisions of the law.”