In Brief | Nation & World | 12-18-13


Snowden says he would help Brazil probe US espionage in exchange for political asylum

RIO DE JANEIRO — National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden wrote in a lengthy “open letter to the people of Brazil” that he’s been inspired by the global debate ignited by his release of thousands of NSA documents and that the agency’s culture of indiscriminate global espionage “is collapsing.”

In the letter, Snowden commended the Brazilian government for its strong stand against U.S. spying.

He wrote that he’d be willing to help the South American nation investigate NSA spying on its soil, but could not fully participate in doing so without being granted political asylum, because the U.S. “government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak.”

Revelations about the NSA’s spy programs were first published in the Guardian and The Washington Post newspapers in June, based on some of the thousands of documents Snowden handed over to Barton Gellman at the Post and to Brazil-based American journalist Glenn Greenwald and his reporting partner, Laura Poitras, a U.S. filmmaker.

The documents revealed Brazil is the top NSA target in Latin America, with spying that has included the monitoring of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s cellphone and hacking into the internal network of state-run oil company Petrobras.

Mega Millions jackpot jumps to $636 million, second largest lottery jackpot in US history

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Mega Millions jackpot has soared to an estimated $636 million for Tuesday night’s drawing, making it the second largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history.

The top prize had been estimated at $586 million, but lottery officials increased their prediction Tuesday morning because of strong ticket sales. The jackpot now trails only a $656 million Mega Millions pot that was sold in March 2012.

Mega Millions changed its rules in October to help increase the jackpots by lowering the odds of winning the top prize. That means the chances of winning the jackpot are now about 1 in 259 million.

But that hasn’t stopped aspiring multimillionaires from playing the game.

“Oh I think there’s absolutely no way I am going to win this lottery,” said Tanya Joosten, 39, an educator at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who bought several tickets on Tuesday. “But it’s hard for such a small amount of money to not take the chance.”

NASA orders urgent repairs at space station, US astronauts will try to fix cooling system

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA has ordered up a series of urgent spacewalks to fix a broken cooling line at the International Space Station.

Station managers decided Tuesday to send two American astronauts out as soon as possible to replace a pump with a bad valve. It’s a major job that will require three spacewalks — Saturday, Monday and next Wednesday on Christmas Day.

“The next week will be busy with space walks so not much tweeting from here,” NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio tweeted from space soon after the decision was announced.

The spacewalks are taking priority over the launch of a supply ship from Virginia. The commercial delivery had been scheduled for this week, but is now delayed until at least mid-January.

Half of the station’s cooling system shut down last Wednesday, forcing the six-man crew to turn off all nonessential equipment, including some science experiments. Because of the valve failure, one of the two cooling lines became too cold.

By wire sources