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Nation & world briefs, July 6

Two countries offer Snowden asylum

Presidents Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela said yesterday they were willing to grant asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Snowden has asked for asylum in numerous countries, including Nicaragua and Venezuela.

“As head of state, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American Edward Snowden so that he can live (without) . . . persecution from the empire,” Maduro said, referring to the United States.

In Nicaragua, Ortega said he was willing to make the same offer “if circumstances allow it.” Ortega didn’t say what the right circumstances would be when he spoke during a speech in Managua.

Syria

Army fires heavy artillery barrages

Syrian government troops unleashed a major artillery barrage on the city of Homs yesterday, hitting buildings near a 13th century mosque as they pressed an assault on rebel-held areas in the country’s strategic heartland.

Opposition activists said Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas had joined the fighting in Syria’s third largest city. If confirmed, it would be the first major involvement for the Iranian-backed group since it helped regime troops capture a key border town from the rebels last month.

As the shells landed, thousands of civilians trapped in the city faced severe shortages of food, water and medicine, prompting the U.N. and opposition groups to warn of a humanitarian catastrophe.

California

Loud screams force coaster to go offline

A Northern California roller coaster appears to have been a little too much fun.

The Gold Striker at Great America in Santa Clara, Calif., had to be taken offline this week because riders were screaming too loudly.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that the shrieks were exceeding the decibel limit agreed upon in a settlement with Prudential Real Estate, which owns adjacent properties.

So Great America had to cover a portion of the track in a sound-dampening tunnel. The wooden roller coaster reopened on Wednesday after the work was completed.

The Associated Press

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