World briefly 6/27


Immigration bill cruising toward Senate passage

WASHINGTON — Far-reaching immigration legislation cruised toward passage in the Senate as House Republicans pushed ahead Wednesday on a different approach that cracks down on millions living in the United States illegally rather than offering them a chance at citizenship.

Presidential politics took a more prominent role in a long-running national debate as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tried to reassure conservatives that many of the criticisms of the bill, which he helped write, are “just not true.”

The potential 2016 White House contender said in remarks on the Senate floor it has been difficult for him “to hear the worry and the anxiety and the growing anger in the voices of so many people who helped me get elected to the Senate and who I agree with on virtually every other issue.”

The political impact of the issue aside, there was no doubt that the Senate bill was on track for passage by Thursday or Friday.

Supporters posted 67 votes or more on each of three procedural tests Wednesday, far more than the 60 needed to prevail. More than a dozen Republicans sided with Democrats on each.

Mystery of Snowden’s whereabouts deepens

MOSCOW — Moscow’s main airport swarmed with journalists from around the globe Wednesday, but the man they were looking for, National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, was nowhere to be seen.

The mystery of his whereabouts only deepened a day after President Vladimir Putin said that Snowden was in the transit area of Sheremetyevo Airport.

There were ordinary scenes of duty free shopping, snoozing travelers and tourists sipping coffee but no trace of America’s most famous fugitive. If Putin’s statement is true, it means that Snowden has effectively lived a life of airport limbo since his weekend flight from Hong Kong, especially with his American passport now revoked by U.S. authorities.

Adding to the uncertainty, Ecuador’s foreign minister said it could take up to two months to decide whether to grant asylum to Snowden and the Latin American nation would take into consideration its relations with the U.S. Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino compared Snowden’s case to that of Julian Assange, the founder of anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, who has been given asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

Morsi defends performance

CAIRO — Egypt’s Islamist president told his opponents to use elections not protests to try to change the government and said the military should focus on its role as the nation’s defenders in a nationally televised address on Wednesday, days before the opposition plans massive street rallies aimed at removing him from office.

Mohammed Morsi’s words to the military came amid opposition hopes that the powerful generals will protect their protests Sunday in an implicit show of support. Morsi’s supporters accuse the opposition of fomenting a coup. Speaking at a giant conference hall packed with people, Morsi reminded his audience that “all agree” that the president is the supreme commander of the armed forces.

“All state institutions work in harmony and with discipline under the leadership of the head of state,” MOrsi said.

The audience, packed with Cabinet members, officials from Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and other supporters, cheered his remarks on the military, which at times sounded like a rebuke to Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Sitting on the front row, el-Sissi, sat silently. Days earlier he issued a sharp demand that both sides in the crisis reconcile and a warning that the military will not sit by if the nation is endangered by the political divisions.

By wire sources