In Brief | Nation & World


Snowden’s lawyer says NSA leaker staying in Russia for now, studying its language, culture

MOSCOW — National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, who fled to Moscow’s airport a month ago, aims to stay in Russia for the near future and learn the country’s culture and language, his lawyer said Wednesday.

To get him started, Anatoly Kucherena said he gave Snowden a copy of “Crime and Punishment,” Dostoyevsky’s lengthy novel about the torment and redemption of a man who thought himself outside the law.

“I am not talking about the similarity of inner contradictions,” Kucherena said after meeting Snowden in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo international airport, where Snowden has been marooned since arriving from Hong Kong on June 23.

When Snowden first arrived at Sheremetyevo, he was believed to be planning to transfer to a flight to Cuba and then to Venezuela to seek asylum. But the United States, which wants him returned for prosecution, canceled his passport, stranding him. He hasn’t been seen in public since, although he met with human rights activists and lawyers July 12.

Door-to-door mail delivery would be phased out under plan approved by House committee

WASHINGTON — Door-to-door mail delivery is about as American as apple pie. With the Postal Service facing billions of dollars in annual losses, that tradition could be virtually phased out by 2022 under a proposal in Congress.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday approved a plan to move to cluster box and curbside delivery, which includes mailboxes at the end of driveways.

The proposal is part of broader legislation by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the oversight and government reform panel, designed to cut costs at the cash-strapped agency by up to $4.5 billion a year. The Postal Service had a $16 billion loss last year.

The bill was approved on a party-line vote, with 22 Republicans supporting it and 17 Democrats opposing it.

Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer said the agency would evaluate Issa’s bill based on whether it would enable the agency to make $20 billion in savings by 2017.

Young Prince George gets an old-school name, to the chagrin of bookies, and in record time

LONDON — The bookies were right: He Who Had Not Been Named is now Prince George.

His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, to be exact.

On Wednesday, that regal name was bestowed on Britain’s 2-day-old royal baby by his parents, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton. Although the thoroughly modern royal couple chose a thoroughly modern way to distribute the news — via Twitter — “Prince George” is as old-school as it gets.

No fewer than six British kings have borne the name George. Its personal symbolism for William made it an obvious pick for months in betting pools across the country. The last King George was George VI, William’s great-grandfather, whose valiant battle with a speech impediment when he inherited the throne after his brother’s abdication was dramatized in the Oscar-winning film “The King’s Speech.”

“It’s a strong name. ‘Prince George of Cambridge’ sounds good, very resonant with the queen’s family,” said Charles Kidd, editor of Debrett’s Peerage & Baronetage.

The length of the name, however, appeared to be something of a nod to the 21st century. Four names, not three, Kidd said, have “become the standard norm for members of the royal family in recent generations.” It took Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, a good week to name William. So the wait for the newest heir’s name was comparatively short.

Not everyone was thrilled with the name “George.” Its popularity in betting pools meant that gambling houses across Britain were on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“We’ve been left with a royal flush,” said Rory Scott, a spokesman for bookmaker Paddy Power. “We always get stung when favorites come good.”

Earlier in the day, Queen Elizabeth II was driven to Kensington Palace to see her great-grandson, becoming the first reigning British monarch since Queen Victoria to meet a third-generation direct heir to the throne. The duke and duchess and their newborn were later seen leaving the palace reportedly en route to Kate’s parents’ mansion in Bucklebury.

By wire sources