World News

    EU Confronting US Over Surveillance

    European Union lawmakers have begun a series of meetings aimed at confronting U.S. officials about allegations of widespread American spying on their allies.

    The 23-member European Parliament delegation met Monday with U.S. lawmakers and officials in several government agencies, including the National Security Council at the White House. The talks are scheduled to extend through Wednesday.

    U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein on Monday called for a `"total review'' of all U.S. intelligence programs in response to the allegations, which the California Democrat said she was not told about.

    But even with diplomatic efforts under way, European officials continue to look for a way to pressure the U.S. to provide details of past surveillance. They also want assurances that the practice will be curbed.



    German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger suggested severing U.S. access to an important law enforcement tool used to track terrorist money flows. The SWIFT agreement, signed after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, allows the U.S. access to funds transferred through the private, Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which handles the movement of money between banks worldwide.

    In recent days, European leaders have denounced reports of National Security Agency spying on allies, including monitoring of the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In the latest outcry, Spain denounced the snooping as "inappropriate and unacceptable."

    The Spanish foreign ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador James Costos for a 45-minute meeting in Madrid within hours of reports in two Spanish newspapers that the U.S. tracked more than 60 million Spanish phone calls in a single month.

    El Mundo and El Pais reported that the NSA monitored the calls last December 10 through January 8 of this year. The reports said the U.S. collected the numbers of the calls and their duration, but not their content.



    El Mundo says the surveillance also included intrusions into personal information through Internet browsers, email and social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

    The reports were based on some of the documents leaked by former U.S. national security contractor Edward Snowden, a U.S. fugitive now living in Russia. In recent days, European media have reported similar U.S. spying on France, and that Chancellor Merkel's cellphone was monitored for several years, along with spying on 34 other world leaders.

    Germany says it will soon send its intelligence chiefs to Washington to demand answers about the spying. Chancellor Merkel called U.S. President Barack Obama last week to voice her personal protest, saying that international friends cannot condone such snooping.

    The NSA says it engages in spying to try to thwart terrorist attacks. But it said Sunday that on Mr. Obama's order, it is reviewing its intelligence gathering operations. The secretive agency said it is seeking "to ensure that we properly account for the security concerns of our citizens and allies, and the privacy concerns that all people share."

    A leading U.S. newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, reported that Mr. Obama went nearly five years without knowing that his own spies were bugging the phones of the world leaders, including Chancellor Merkel, and that the program has now ended.

    The newspaper, in a report Monday citing anonymous U.S. officials, said the president learned of the snooping after ordering an internal review a few months ago. The White House said it is not monitoring Ms. Merkel's mobile phones and will not do so in the future. But it has declined comment on whether the NSA spied on her devices in the past.

    The Wall Street Journal account says the review uncovered that the NSA had tapped the phones of the world leaders, and that the NSA ended most of the program after the White House learned of the operation.

    Officials said the NSA has so many eavesdropping operations under way that it would not have been practical to brief the president on all of them.

    Bild am Sonntag quoted Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich Sunday as saying the allegations have "shaken" Berlin's trust in Washington, a longtime ally.

    Friedrich told the newspaper that "if the Americans intercepted mobile phone communications in Germany, they broke German law," and said that would be an "unacceptable violation of German sovereignty."

    Former NSA contractor Snowden leaked documents earlier this year purporting to show sweeping U.S. surveillance of Internet searches and telephone records of U.S. citizens and world leaders.

    Germany is working with Brazil on a draft U.N. General Assembly resolution to guarantee privacy in electronic communications. U.N. diplomats say it would call for extending the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to Internet activities, but would not mention the United States.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora