World News

    Spain Summons US Ambassador on NSA Tracking

    Spain has summoned U.S. Ambassador James Costos to address allegations that the U.S. tracked more than 60 million Spanish phone calls in a single month.

    Two Spanish newspapers, El Mundo and El Pais, reported Monday that the clandestine U.S. National Security Agency monitored the calls last December 10 through January 8 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 massive number of documents leaked by former U.S. national security contractor Edward Snowden, the U.S. fugitive now living in Russia. In recent days, European media have reported similar U.S. spying in France, and that the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel was monitored for several years, along with spying on 34 other world leaders.

    European leaders, among the staunchest American allies, have denounced the U.S. monitoring. The European Union and Germany are sending envoys to Washington to condemn it and to seek an end to the monitoring. 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."



    Meanwhile, 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, says 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 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.

    However, the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag quoted an unnamed official of the NSA as saying President Obama received an NSA briefing in 2010, informing him that U.S. spies were monitoring Chancellor Merkel's mobile communications.

    The NSA has since denied the president ever discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel.

    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."

    In a separate report, German weekly Der Spiegel said the NSA may have been bugging Ms. Merkel's mobile phone as early as 2002 when she served as opposition leader. She took office as chancellor in 2005.

    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.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    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 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 New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    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.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora