From Washington, this is VOA news. President Obama explains reports of surveillance on U.S. citizens, and the Turkish prime minister comes down on critics of police crackdowns. I’m Vincent Bruce reporting from Washington.
U.S. President Barack Obama has defended for the first time the National Security Agency’s surveillance of telephone and Internet records, saying Americans should trust those who conduct the programs who are working to prevent new terrorist attacks. Dan Robinson has a report from the White House.
Mr. Obama’s remarks on the controversy swirling over government surveillance came at an event in California.
Saying “nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” he said his responsibility is to keep the American people safe, and to uphold the Constitution and civil liberties.
Programs revealed in media reports, he said, were authorized by broad bipartisan majorities in Congress repeatedly since 2006, and are subject to limitations, but also necessary.
“By sifting through this so-called metadata, they may identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism.”
On the previously secret program called “Prism,” revealed in newspaper reports, he said surveillance of the Internet does not apply to U.S. citizens or people living in the United States.
Dan Robinson, VOA news, the White House.
The leaders of the world’s two biggest economies, the U.S. and China, are meeting in California for two days to address U.S. concerns about China’s reported cyberattacks on the U.S. military and businesses as well as China’s demands for easier access to U.S. markets.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused his critics of hypocrisy for criticizing a police crackdown on anti-government protesters in Turkey.
Speaking at the Istanbul conference of the Ministry of European Affairs Friday hours after returning from a trip to North Africa, Mr. Erdogan spoke in response to the remarks made by EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele, who said the use of excessive police force has no place in a democracy.
More details at voanews.com.
Seven deaths have been reported in Pakistan following what authorities say a suspected U.S. drone missile strike at a compound in North Waziristan tribal district late Friday.
Officials in Pakistan say seven militants were killed at the site about 100 kilometers southwest of Miransha near the Afghan border.
The United Nations and Malian officials, following a visit to the city of Timbuktu, are warning that damage to that country’s cultural sites is greater than first thought. Officials say ancient mosques, mausoleums and manuscripts in the city have been damaged or destroyed after rebels in the north of country rose up against the government last year. From the United Nations, VOA’s Margaret Besheer has more.
Malian and international experts visited Timbuktu in the past two weeks and on Friday told reporters in the Malian capital, Bamako, that the destruction was alarming.
Lazare Eloundou-Assomo of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization–UNESCO–who was part of the mission, said that more mausoleums and mosques were destroyed than anticipated and that a general lack of maintenance has also led to the decay of cultural treasures.
Experts say over 4,000 manuscripts from the Ahmed Baba research center have been lost.
Mali’s Culture Minister, Bruno Maiga, lamented the lost manuscripts and the destruction to Mali’s cultural heritage.
The mission to Timbuktu aimed to gather first-hand information on what will be needed to repair, rebuild and protect the city’s cultural heritage.
Margaret Besheer, VOA news, the United Nations.
The United Nations Friday thanked Russia for offering to replace peacekeepers from Austria along the border with Syria and Israel, but said such a substitution is not possible.
President Vladimir Putin offered to send Russian troops to the Golan Heights after Austria decided to withdraw its 377 soldiers from the U.N. peacekeeping force because of growing spillover from the Syria conflict.
The U.N. on Friday launched a record $4.4-billion international aid appeal for operations in Syria and neighboring countries.
In Geneva, U.N. Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie “We estimate that 6.8 million people now need urgent help. That is one in three Syrians in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. And between January and April the number of people displaced within Syria more than doubled.”
The U.N. says it already has pledges of about $1.4-billion.
The U.S. says that its labor market added another 175,000 jobs last month, but its jobless rate edged higher to 7.6 percent as more Americans looked for work. The job growth exceeded the expectations of most analysts.
Visit us 24 hours a day at voanews.com. I’m Vincent Bruce, VOA news, Washington.
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