VOA news: Monday, October 14th, 2013
From Washington This is VOA News.
Coming up, Red Cross workers kidnapped in Syria and the latest on the U.S. Government shutdown.
Hello, everyone, I’m Steve Norman.
The International Committee of the Red Cross says gunmen in northern Syria have kidnapped six Red Cross aid workers and a member of the Syrian Red Crescent.
Syrian state news agency said gunmen opened fire on a convoy before killing and seizing the aid workers, that is, not killing them but seizing them, there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Also in the news, US Secretary of State John Kerry says the window for diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program is in his words “cracking open” ahead of new negotiations between Iran and world powers set for Tuesday and Wednesday.
That will be with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as Germany.
Nuclear talks will be the first since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took office in August.
NATO says at least one US soldier was killed when a man wearing an Afghan army uniform opened fire on US soldiers in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday.
According to a Reuters tally, Sunday’s insider attack was the 10th such incident this year and took the death toll of foreign personnel to 15. At least 14 people are dead in cyclone Phailin which hit India’s east coast over the weekend, final death toll expected to climb.
Phailin came ashore late Saturday with winds of more than 200 km/h.
More than 10 million people were in the path of the storm in the states of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.
Evacuating almost 1,000,000 people before the cyclone is believed to have minimized the casualties.
More now from VOAs Aru Pande.
Police, television and radio reports helped spread the word, getting nearly a million people to take shelter in government buildings, schools and temples, as more than 200 kilometer winds bore down on the coasts late Saturday into early Sunday.
Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, credits one of the largest evacuation operations in India’s history for saving lives. “Normalcy will come back soon. Our primary responsibility was to protect the valuable lives of our citizens. I think we have been successful.”
Patnaik said military helicopters that were on standby to rescue storm victims did not have to be deployed during Phailin. Aru Pande, VOA News, New Delhi.
Also, in India, at least 89 people were killed, 100 others injured.
It happened Sunday on a stampede, during a Stampede, under a bridge leading to a remote Hindu Temple in Madhya Pradesh State.
Police are warning that the death toll could rise as medics struggle to reach victims in the crush, which was triggered by rumors the bridge was about to collapse.
Here in Washington, Democratic Senate Majority leader Harry Reid says he is optimistic there will be positive outcomes in efforts to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.
Senator Reid spoke on the senate floor at the close of a rare Sunday session.
He said the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, with whom he had held talks on Sunday, said the talks were productive but gave no specifics.
Current U.S. debt ceiling expires on Thursday and if Congress does not raise it, the United States could no longer borrow money to pay its creditors or meet other obligations.
Partial government shutdown starts its third week on Tuesday with no clear signs of progress between Congress and the White House.
IMF Chief Christine Lingard appearing Sunday on NBC said the U.S. fiscal problems could affect the whole world.
“If there was accommodation for the government shutdown for a period of time and more seriously, more damaging if the debt ceiling was not lifted, with a degree of certainty and enough time so that people could have the assurance that the economy was in good standing, that would bring about so much uncertainy, so much risk of disruption, that the standing of the U.S. economy would again, be at risk.”
Ms. Lingard referring to a similars situation in 2008, when the US debt ceiling kept the world economy’s on the edge.
Officials In Saudi Arabia say some 2 million muslim Pilgrims have made the journey for the Hajj, the Annual Pilgrimage to Mecca.
Hajj is the oldest and most sacred ritual of Islam, required of all physically and financially able Muslims.
Mecca is the birthplace of the Prophet Mohamma, Mohammed that is.
Saudi Arabia has deployed tens of thousands of troops to ensure safety of Pilgrims. Get more news at our website, VOAnews.com.
VOA news: uesday, October 15th, 2013
From Washington This is VOA News.
Coming up, Al Qaeda suspect in the US to face terrorism charges, What a Nobel economist is saying about the US’s fiscal crisis.
Hello everyone, I’m Steve Norman.
US officials say a Libyan terrorism suspect captured in a raid by American Special Forces in Tripoli back on October the fifth, is now in New York to face charges.
The Al Qaeda suspect known as Abu Anas al-Libi has been under federal indictment in New York for more than a decade.
He is charged with helping to plan the bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany will hold 2 days of talks Tuesday and Wednesday with Iran.
It could decide the decade-old crisis over its nuclear program and can it be solved peacefully.
In June, Iranians unexpectedly elected moderate Hassan Rouhani as President. His statements, especially at the UN General Assembly last month, are offering new hope for progress.
This according to a Iran expert Mark Fitzpatrick at London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies.
” I think Iran will come forward with something new. I doubt that it will be enough to make a big breakthrough but maybe some small progress will be possible and then additional meetings might create the possibility for more progress.”
But after President President Hassan Rouhani met with UN contact group and agreed to further talks in Geneva and Mr. Rouhani spoke with President Obama by telephone, the Iranian leader encountered criticism back home for moving too fast on the nuclear talks.
Several news outlets, including TV New Zealand and CNBC, are reporting an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.4 hit the southern Philippines. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, Hawaii that is, said there was no threat of Pacific wide tsunami after the quake.
It struck at a depth of about 35 km around Bohol island to the northern Mindanao island.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damages today.
An explosion has been reported in a room of a luxury hotel in Burma’s main city of Rangoon, with 1 American injured there.
It was not immediately clear what caused Monday’s blast at the Traders Hotel, the latest in a series of explosions in Burma.
Earlier on Monday, police said they found at least 2 unexploded bombs, 1 in Rangoon and the other in Mandalay.
In recent days, a series of bombs have gone off in Burma killing 2 people and several others were wounded.
Here in Washington, Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid says there was no tremendous progress, there was tremendous progress, he says on Monday toward a deal to end the 2-week-old US government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell says he shares Reids optimism about a day of talks with his Democratic colleague.
If the debt ceiling is not raised by Thursday the United States may not be able to pay all of its bills. President Obama has said this would be a catastrophe for the world economy.
Meantime Robert Shiller, who was 1 of the 3 people to win the Nobel Prize for economics, on Monday, spoke about the US fiscal crisis when he met with reporters.
“I’m thinking that this crisis will likely be resolved.
We won’t see a default. Even if we do, it will be for 1 day our something like that. And even if it’s longer, I think that it it’s not it’s not the end of the world.
Markets might drop 7% on Sunday and then come back up.
I should add however I did not know the future I could be wrong.”
67-year-old Yale University professor is well-known as the creator of the Case-Shiller index of home prices.
The other 2 winners of the Nobel Prize were 74-year-old Eugene Fama and 60-year-old Lars Peter Hansen.
Both teach at the University of Chicago, they were honored for separate research that collectively expanded the understanding of asset prices. U.S. stocks rose on Monday hope by signs that Washington was moving closer to a deal that would avert the fault by the US government.
The Dow Jones industrial average added .4% to close at 15,301.
Index was down as much as 100 points earlier in the day.
Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose .4%, the NASDAQ composite index ended the day up .6 per cent.
And Due to the Columbus Day holiday, trading was lighter than normal at 2.6 billion shares.
Get more news by going to our website at VOAnews.com.
I’m Steve Norman VOAnews.
VOA news: Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news. Coming up, more questions about the U.S. government shutdown and debt, and Libyan terrorism suspect pleads not guilty.
Here in Washington, congressional leaders are negotiating separate measures to end the two-week-old government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling so the country can keep paying its bills.
A Republican-led House plan would fund the government through December 15th and raise the debt ceiling through February 7th. It would also make changes to President Obama’s signature health care law, the Affordable Health Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare.
The Senate plan includes reopening government and a short-term debt limit increase, and would start negotiations on spending cuts. Senate Democrats oppose attaching health care or any other issues to such a measure.
The Libyan terrorism suspect known as Abu Anas al-Libi [has been] has pleaded not guilty to charges linking him to the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, in which 200 people were killed, 12 of them Americans.
The suspected al-Qaeda member entered the plea on Tuesday in a New York federal court.
Karen Greenberg is director of the Center for National Security at Fordham Law School in New York.
“This is interesting for two reasons. One is getting in custody another individual from the embassy bombings indictment, and the second reason is to understand more about al-Qaeda, what happened with al-Qaeda, Benghazi, etc. And so I think he is, he is considered very valuable source, and resource for the United States right now in addition to the prosecutorial elements.”
Al-Libi was snatched by U.S. special forces in Tripoli on October 5th, held on an American warship until arriving in New York on Monday.
The French aid group Doctors Without Borders says the international community should demonstrate the same urgency in addressing Syria’s humanitarian crisis that it did in pressing for the destruction of its chemical weapons.
Meantime, Syrian warplanes and helicopters bombed rebel-held districts across the country Tuesday as most of the Muslim majority country sought to mark the first day of the religious festival of Eid al-Adha.
Iran says international negotiators have welcomed a proposal its foreign minister made at the start of a fresh round of nuclear talks in Geneva that will continue for a second day on Wednesday.
Details were not disclosed.
VOA’s Al Pessin reporting from the talks in Geneva.
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi says the Iranian presentation was received “in a positive atmosphere,” and was followed by a “serious” exchange of questions and answers.
“We are serious for real target-oriented negotiations between Iran and the other side, and we believe that the plan that we have introduced has the capacity to reach that.’ Iran and the six nations have been deadlocked over issues of transparency, nuclear fuel enrichment and stockpiles of near-weapons-grade uranium. The U.N. Security Council has imposed tough economic sanctions on Iran to press its leaders to be more forthcoming, and officials say the sanctions will remain as long as there is a reason for them.
Al Pessin, VOA news, Geneva.
Burmese authorities have arrested three men in connection with a series of bombings and attempted bombings across the country that have killed two people since late last week.
The men in custody were not named, and there is no word on a motive for the attacks. No groups or individuals claimed responsibility for the incidents.
A powerful earthquake has struck the central Philippines on Tuesday, killing at least 93 people and wounding hundreds more in a popular tourist region. The 7.2 magnitude quake was centered near Bohol Island, where authorities say most of the casualties occurred.
The quake and several powerful aftershocks collapsed buildings, buckled roads and sent frightened residents rushing out of their homes and businesses.
Afghan officials say a bomb blast killed the governor of the province of Logar. It happened in the eastern part of the country.
Governor Arsala Jamal was giving a speech at a mosque Tuesday to celebrate Eid al-Adha when a bomb went off, killing him and wounding several others. A former U.S. Army captain received the nation’s highest military honor for his bravery in one of the most deadly battles in Afghanistan.
President Obama presented the congressional Medal of Honor to William Swenson at the White House on Tuesday.
Swenson was honored for his actions during a battle against the Taliban that claimed the lives of five Americans, 10 Afghan army troops, and an interpreter in September 2009 near the Pakistani border.
Get more news at our website voanews.com.
VOA news: Thursday, October 17th, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news.
Coming up, the latest on the US government shutdown and debt crisis plus Kenyan troops serving with AMISOM’s in Somali.
Hello everyone, I’m Steve Norman.
Topping the news, the US House of Representatives has approved a last-minute compromise to reopen the US federal government and raise the debt ceiling to avoid a potential debt default.
Representatives approved the plan late Wednesday after it was approved by the Senate by a vote of 81 to 18.
Pres. Obama spoke just after the Senate vote, “Once this agreements arrives on my desk, I will sign immediately will begin reopening immediately and we can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease from our businesses and from the American people.”
The bill will keep the government running until at least January 15th and raise the borrowing limit enough to put off the risk of default until at least February 7th.”
Also in the news, Egypt’s Foreign Minister said Wednesday that relations between his country and the United States are in his words, “in turmoil”, following Washington’s decision to suspend delivery of tanks, helicopters and fighter jets to Egypt.
The suspension announced last week came in response to the unrest in the wake of the July 3 military coup that ousted Mohamed Morrissey as President.
Egypt’s first freely elected president and that led to the deaths of hundreds of people and police crackdowns.
In an interview with state owned Al-Heron newspaper, no Biel Fahmi said that there is unrest in relations between the two countries, warning that the strain could affect the whole Middle East region.
Pres. Obama said last week, the US decision to cut off military aid was met by, as a warning that it no longer can be business as usual with Cairo.
Members of the Kenyan defense force, serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia also known as AMISOM’s, last month ended their tour of duty and were being replaced by a new battalion to serve in the peacekeeping mission.
The rotating soldiers have been in Somalia for more than a year serving alongside African troops.
After being briefing his troops bound back for Kenya on Wednesday Amazon sector to commander Brig. Anthony In-Garys spoke to reporters, “I’m very proud of my onsided men who are going out because we have gone so to fight a number of challenges . and now for the incoming once we train them are to continue airports to bringing security and stability. Not only here in Somailia but also hereof..
AMISOM is made up of troops mainly from Kenya, Uganda, and Berundi.
Ethiopia is also sent in soldiers but they are not under the AMISOM command.
The troops are mandated to support the Somali national forces in the fight against Al Qaeda Linked extremist group Al-Shabob.
Tens of thousands of people of people have fled their homes because of violence in the Central African Republic according to the medical organization Doctors without Borders.
VOAs Gabe Joslo reports aid workers have witnessed executions and other atrocities as security deteriorates.
Doctors that borders known by its French initials MSF reports violence has flared this month in the northwestern CAR where Government forces are battling local armed groups.
Many civilians have fled towns and villages for the forest where they live without adequate shelter and with little access to food and water.
The fighting has been taking place in areas under the control of government forces comprised of soldiers who seized power in a March coup as part of the now disbanded Celica rebel movement.
Celica has been unable to assert control over the country or even its own fighters who are blamed for a wave of looting killing and violent attacks in the countrys interior.
Gabe Joslo, VOA News, Nairobi
Head of the U.N. mission in Mali says recently security incidents there are an important wake-up and urged the security council to enable the rapid deployment of additional troops and helicopters to the mission.
Somali including removes toward national reconciliation talks.
Global slavery index published people the pros also prevalent in the West African nation of obese and are deemed to be held in slavery.
Get more news at VOAnews.
VOA news: Friday, October 18th, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news. President Obama declares no winners in budget deal. Deadly bombings sweep Iraq. I’m Ray Kouguell reporting from Washington.
President Obama says there are “no winners” in the bill reached by Congress to avoid a potential debt default and funding the government.
Speaking at the White House Thursday, President Obama said the impasse that sparked a 16-day partial government shutdown “inflicted completely, unnecessary damage” on the U.S. economy.
Mr. Obama said he is looking for “willing partners” in upcoming negotiations with Congress on the budget and other important priorities.
White House correspondent Dan Robinson reports.
As federal employees returned to work, including White House staffers furloughed by the shutdown, Mr. Obama spoke about Americans’ frustrations with politics in Washington.
He thanked what he called “responsible” Republicans for coming together to end the shutdown and debt-ceiling crisis, but saying, “There are no winners here.”
“The American people are completely fed up with Washington. At a moment when our economic recovery demands more jobs, more momentum, we got yet another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back. And for what? ” Mr. Obama said he will look for willing partners to get important work done, adding there is no reason leaders cannot govern responsibly without “lurching from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis.”
Dan Robinson, VOA news, the White House.
A wave of car bombings and suicide bomb blasts ripped through the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and two northern communities Thursday, killing at least 61 people and wounding about 200 others.
Authorities say most of the Baghdad blasts happened in quick succession in Shiite Muslim parts of the city shortly after nightfall, including one near a playground that killed as many as six children.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility.
The U.S. Justice Department brought new charges against four former Blackwater Worldwide security guards for 2007 shootings in Baghdad that strained U.S.-Iraq relations.
The four were charged Thursday with various counts of voluntary manslaughter, attempt to commit manslaughter and the use of a firearm in a crime of violence.
Fourteen Iraqi civilians were killed and 18 others injured in what the prosecutors say was an unprovoked attack.
Two explosions in Burma have killed one and wounded six in eastern Shan state, the latest in a series of small-scale bombings in the country.
Police is still investigating the explosions, which occurred in the town of Namkham Thursday, not far from Burma’s border with China.
Britain says it will allow Chinese companies to take a majority stake in its nuclear power projects as part of efforts to speed up London’s power generation capabilities.
Finance Minister George Osborne made the announcement Thursday during a visit to a nuclear power plant in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.
Mr. Osborne says Chinese companies will be allowed to invest in British nuclear projects initially as minority partners, and that any Chinese investment would also have to conform to “very stringent” British safety and security regulations.
Five countries have won two-year terms on the U.N. Security Council.
VOA’s Margaret Besheer has details.
U.N. General Assembly President John Ashe announced the winners of the secret ballot vote. “Chad, Chile, Lithuania, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia are elected members of the Security Council for a two-year term beginning on 1 January, 2014.”
They will replace outgoing members Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo.
The seats are allocated regionally, and all five candidates had been agreed upon in advance within their regional groups, so they faced no competition. But they were all required to win a two-thirds majority approval of voting U.N. member states, which they did.
Margaret Besheer, VOA news, the United Nations.
Thousands of French students took to the streets of Paris Thursday to protest the expulsion of immigrant families, including two teenagers.
Several of the demonstrators clashed with police during their march, but most of it reportedly took place peacefully.
A new report from the Walk Free Foundation says an estimated 30 million people are enslaved around the world.
The Australia-based group issued its first Global Slavery Index, a ranking of 162 countries by their prevalence of modern slavery.
Researchers considered crimes such as human trafficking, forced labor and the exploitation of children.
Mauritania is the nation with the highest percentage with a long history of hereditary slavery based on ethnicity.
I’m Ray Kouguell, VOA news. Details on these and other stories on our website at voanews.com.
VOA news: Saturday, October 19th, 2013
From Washington This is VOA News.
Saudi Arabia turns down UN Security Council spot and a Norwegian may be linked to Kenya mall seige.
I’m Bill Michaels, reporting from Washington. Saudi Arabia has turned down a spot on the United Nations Security Council saying the body has failed to resolve the Syrian Civil War and other conflicts around the world.
In a rare move Friday, the Saudi Foreign Ministry blasted the Council for failing to pass resolutions to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for his role the countries two-and-a-half year Civil War.
In a statement carried on Saudi television, the Foreign Ministry also condemned what it called double standards on the Council and called for unspecified reforms.
Authorities investigating last month’s deadly attack in a Kenyan mall says Norwegian Somali man may have been involved.
Norwegian officials have declined to publicly identify the man, however, investigators in Kenya say he is 23-year-old Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, a Somali born Norwegian citizen.
It’s not clear if he is still alive.
Martin Bernsen, spokesman for the police security service in Norway, says authorities there have been investigating the possible involvement of a Norwegian citizen in the mall attack.
Kenyan authorities previously released the name of four other militants they say were involved in the attack, all of whom were killed.
Burmese police investigating a string of bombings across the country are accusing a small group of terrorist of being behind the explosions.
During a news conference in Rangoon Friday, they said the attacks appeared to have been carried out to intimidate foreign investors.
VOA reports from Rangoon.
Rangoon region police chief, Zaw Win, says security camera video of attackers seen at several bomb sites, used similiar bomb construction techniques, indicate 10 attacks over the last week are linked. Using security video and an identification card left in a taxi, police were able to arrest Saw Myint Lwin, whom they identify as the main suspect in the bombing of Rangoon high-end Trader hotel this week, which injured an American tourist, several hundred miles away in Mon state.
This is VOA News, reporting from Rangoon.
With the U.S. Government shutdown over, lawmakers now face a difficult task in resolving significant differences over the country’s spending priorities and taxation.
US President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and his Republican opponents in Congress been unable to reach an agreement on overall government budgets during most of last five years in the White House.
Congress has adopted crisis driven measures to keep the government operating.
Romania has agreed to allow the US military to use an airbase near the Black sea as a key logistics operator getting supplies and troops in and out of Afghanistan.
Pentagon officials said the agreement reached Friday will allow them to move their operations away from Kyrgyzstan where lawmakers have voted to not renew the US lease at Manas airbase beyond July, 2014.
United States is working on pulling out most of its combat forces and equipment from Afghanistan by the end of next year.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will meet with President Obama in Washington next week, his first interaction with the US leader since assuming office in June.
No breakthroughs are being anticipated on controversies such as US drone strikes and the Pakistani military link with Afghan insurgents.
Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
Despite mutual distrust and suspicion, Prime Minister’s Sharif’s upcoming meeting with President Obama is seen as crucial for bilateral relations. Pakistan badly needs foreign assistance to overcome it’s economic troubles and deepening energy crises.
The United States will be heavily relying on Islamabad for a smooth withdrawal of most of American troops from neighboring Afghanistan next year.
Moreover, Washington wants Pakistan to use its influence with the Afghan Taliban to end violence and join the political reconcilation process.
Ayaz Gul for VOA news, Islamabad.
The stock price of the Google Internet search engine reached $1000 a share for the first time on Friday as investors bet the firm will continue to dominate the mobile and video advertising business.
Price rose after the company reported better than expected earnings for the third quarter.
For more on these stories, and a complete look at today’s news, be sure to visit our website, VOAnews.com.
Reporting from Washington, I’m Bill Michaels, VOA news.
VOA news: Sunday, October 20th, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news. Central Somalia, suicide bombing kills at least 15, and a U.N. official calls for relief from fighting in Syria. I’m Vincent Bruce reporting from Washington.
In the central Somali town of Beledweyne, a suicide bomber detonated explosives in a crowded restaurant Saturday.
Earlier in the day, Beledweyne district commissioner Bashir Hussein Dhoor confirmed 15 people were killed and 34 injured.
The militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack. The group released a statement identifying the main target as troops from Ethiopia and Djibouti.
Al-Shabab claims the blast killed more than 20 people, including 13 Ethiopian troops. The group claimed responsibility for September siege at a mall in Kenya that killed at least 67 people.
The United Nations’ top humanitarian official is urging both sides in the Syrian civil war to allow aid workers access to thousands of civilians trapped in one of several besieged suburbs ringing the capital of Damascus.
Valerie Amos Saturday called for an “immediate pause in hostilities” to allow access for medical and other rescue personnel into area. Government troops laid siege to the mostly rebel-held town for months.
Last week, more than 3,000 civilians, mostly women and children, were able to leave Moadhamiya in a deal brokered between government and opposition representatives. But the U.N. official said Saturday that “the same number or more remain trapped” in the community, which has been the frequent target of shelling and clashes.
Meanwhile, world leaders continued to push for a peace conference in Geneva next month.
The U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, on Saturday met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy and is due to hold talks with Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi on Sunday.
More details at voanews.com.
In Rome Saturday, Italian police in riot gear clashed with demonstrators who took to the streets to protest against the government’s new austerity measures.
The protesters expressed frustration over Italy’s 2014 cost-cutting budget unveiled by Prime Minister Enrico Letta that would freeze public sector’s salaries–a government attempt to lead Italy out of a recession.
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi could be barred from holding public office after his conviction for tax fraud.
An Italian court ruled Saturday that Berlusconi, the former prime minister and current senator, should be barred for two years from holding public office.
However, the ruling will not have an immediate effect until a vote in the upper house of parliament in coming weeks on whether to expel him from the Senate.
Italy’s Supreme Court turned down the 77-year-old Berlusconi’s second and final appeal against the tax fraud verdict, upholding his first definitive conviction after many years of legal challenges.
French and Thai experts are helping rescue workers in Laos search for the remains of a passenger plane that crashed into the Mekong River Wednesday.
All 49 people on board the Lao Airlines plane are presumed dead. As of Saturday, more than 30 bodies had been recovered.
The teams from France’s air accident agency and the Thai military were using sonar equipment Saturday to scan the river for the aircraft and remaining victims.
President Obama Friday nominated a former Defense Department lawyer, Jeh Johnson, to be the next secretary of Homeland Security. Johnson played a major role in explaining Obama administration legal justifications on the use of unmanned drones and lethal targeted strikes and U.S. detention policies.
VOA’s senior White House correspondent Dan Robinson has a report.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Johnson would become only the fourth Homeland Security secretary, replacing Janet Napolitano, who led the department through President Obama’s first term.
Created after the September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the United States, the department has a $60-billion budget and 240,000 employees.
In announcing the nomination, President Obama paid tribute to Johnson’s role in national security and in ensuring that U.S. principles are upheld in the fight against terrorism.
“As the Pentagon’s top lawyer, he helped design and implement many of the policies that have kept our country safe.”
Dan Robinson, VOA news, the White House.
U.S. Congressman Bill Young–the longest serving Republican in the House of Representatives–has died at the age of 82.
His chief of staff said Young died at a hospital just outside Washington where he had been for nearly two weeks with back problems related to a 1970 small plane crash.
President Barack Obama said in a statement that Young “will be remembered for his advocacy and support for the armed forces, service members and their families.”
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