US Sues Edward Snowden Over new Book, Cites Non-disclosure Agreements

The United States filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who in 2013 leaked secret documents about U.S. telephone and Internet surveillance, saying his new book violates non-disclosure agreements.

The Justice Department said Snowden published his memoir, “Permanent Record,” without submitting it to intelligence agencies for review, adding that speeches given by Snowden also violated nondisclosure agreements.

The United States is seeking all proceeds earned by Snowden for the book, the Justice Department said. The lawsuit also names the “corporate entities” behind the book’s publication as nominal defendants.

A spokesman for Snowden could not immediately be reached, and book publisher Macmillan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Snowden has lived in Russia since he revealed details of U.S. intelligence agencies’ secret surveillance programs.

Though Snowden is viewed by some as a hero, U.S. authorities want him to stand in a criminal trial over his disclosures of classified information.

Ex-Campaign Chief Defends Trump, Blasts Democrats at Impeachment Hearing

Corey Lewandowski, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager and close confidant, on Tuesday stoutly defended his former boss and lashed out at Democrats during testimony to a U.S. congressional panel considering whether to impeach Trump.

“We as a nation would be better served if elected officials like you concentrated your efforts to combat the true crises facing our country as opposed to going down rabbit holes like this hearing,” Lewandowski said in his opening remarks to the Democratic-led House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

The White House on Monday told Lewandowski not to discuss conversations he had with Trump after he became president including an exchange that Democrats view as evidence that Trump committed obstruction of justice by trying to interfere in a federal investigation and may need to be impeached.

Lewandowski was the first impeachment witness to appear before the committee since former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified in July about his inquiry that detailed Russian 2016 election interference and Trump’s actions to impede the investigation.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, began the hearing by slamming the White House’s legal team for instructing Lewandowski to limit the scope of his testimony by invoking a doctrine called executive privilege.

“We should call this what it is: an absolute cover-up by the White House,” Nadler said.

“The White House is advancing a new and dangerous theory: the crony privilege,” Nadler added. “… Where are the limits?”

The hearing appeared likely to produce more political theater than factual revelations.

Lewandowski assailed the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2020 election.

“It is now clear the investigation was populated by many Trump haters who had their own agenda – to try and take down a duly elected president of the United States. As for actual “collusion” or “conspiracy,” there was none. What there has been however, is harassment of the president from the day he won the election,” Lewandowski added.

Lewandowski is considering a run for the U.S. Senate as a Republican in New Hampshire. Mueller’s report described Lewandowski as a Trump “devotee” with a “close” relationship with the president.

Trump in August sought to boost Lewandowski’s potential Senate bid, calling his former aide “a fantastic guy” who would make a “great senator” and that “I like everything about him.”

“This isn’t a campaign rally. This is the first hearing where you can tell the American people how you participated in the president’s effort to obstruct justice,” Democratic Representative David Cicilline wrote on Twitter.

Democrats, who hope to decide whether to recommend Trump’s impeachment to the full House by year’s end, had intended to grill Lewandowski about the president’s effort to persuade then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to redirect the Mueller probe away from the 2016 Trump election campaign.

The episode is among a number of incidents contained in Mueller’s 448-page investigative report made public in April that Democrats view as evidence that Trump obstructed justice.

Mueller made no determination about whether Trump obstructed justice but did not exonerate him of wrongdoing.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the House has the power to vote to impeach a president while the Senate then would hold a trial on whether to remove him from office. The House is controlled by Democrats and the Senate by Trump’s fellow Republicans.

White House assertion

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone told the committee in a letter on Monday that Lewandowski could not testify about conversations with Trump after he became president or with his senior advisers.

The White House also directed two other witnesses, former Trump White House aides Rob Porter and Rick Dearborn, not to testify. Cipollone’s letter said they were “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony with respect to matters related to their service as senior advisers to the President.”

In June 2017, Trump met Lewandowski, then a private citizen, at the White House and dictated a message he was to deliver to Sessions. The message said Sessions should shift the Russia probe’s focus to future elections despite his recusal from the investigation.

At a second meeting a month later, Trump asked about the status of the message and said Lewandowski should “tell Sessions he was fired” if he would not meet with Lewandowski, according to the Mueller report.

Trump fired Lewandowski as his campaign manager in June 2016 but the two remained close. During the campaign, Lewandowski had often generated controversy including when he was charged with misdemeanor battery after being accused of forcefully grabbing a female reporter in Florida. The charge was later dropped.

Why the ‘Yuppie Elderly’ Aren’t Moving as Much

Older Americans aren’t moving as much as they used to. 

The migration rate of people over 55 has dropped steadily over the past two decades from a high of 6% in 1996, to 4.3% between 2017 and 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau

Moving rates for Baby Boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 — have rebounded a bit since the Great Recession of 2007-2009, but they remain slightly below pre-recession rates.

“The idea is if the economy’s not so good, they may just want to stay working for a little bit more before they retire,” says demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution.

“Their decision is when can they retire, when is it affordable to retire? And more importantly, from the migration standpoint, does it make sense to to pick up stakes and move somewhere else? If the housing crunch is there, they’re not going to have too many bidders for their homes, so the idea of selling your house to move somewhere else is not going to be as easy.”


When they do retire, Baby Boomers are still heading to traditional sunny retirement haunts like Phoenix, Tampa, Riverside [California], Las Vegas and Jacksonville [Florida].

The lure of the big city isn’t calling to these older folks. The cities that experienced the biggest net loss of seniors include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington and San Francisco.

For all ages, short-distance moves far outnumber long-distance moves, especially for seniors. Those who move a short distance might be interested in being close to their adult children and grandchildren.

For more than a decade, Phoenix, Arizona, has remained the top destination for older Americans who relocate within the United States.

Typically, those who move far away are attracted by the weather, lower costs and services geared toward older people. However, there may be movement to back to their kids when they get beyond the early senior years.

“I’ve got to call them the yuppie elderly, in good health and still have some disposable income, they’ll move to places where they have some amenities for older people,” Frey says. “But when things are not going so well, they may then move back to areas where they have more friends and family that can help take care of them.”

IS Says it Releases News Audio of Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

The Islamic State terror group has issued a new audio recording , claiming to show the group’s reclusive leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi encouraging his supporters and fighters to conduct more military operations and engage in more propaganda.

The recording, posted to the internet Monday by IS’s al-Furqan media division, also calls on IS supporters not to forget about Muslims being held in prisons and refugee camps.

U.S. officials have yet to comment on the purported recording.

Earlier this year, the terror group released a video of the man it claimed was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi seeking revenge for the fall of the terror group’s self-declared caliphate In Iraq and Syria.

FILE -  This image made from video posted on a militant website July 5, 2014, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq.
IS Claims Video Shows Reclusive Leader, Calls for Revenge
The Islamic State issued a new video Monday claiming to show its reclusive leader delivering a message to his followers, urging them to seek revenge for the fall of the terror group’s self-declared caliphate In Iraq and Syria.

The more than 18-minute-long video posted to the internet by IS’s al-Furqan media division shows a man, allegedly Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, sitting cross-legged against a white backdrop with a machine gun and a couple of pillows by his side. 

The man is seen speaking with other IS members, whose faces are blurred or covered with masks, acknowledging the recent fall of the

Before that, the 48-year-old Baghdadi had not been seen since he gave a sermon at the al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, Iraq, in July 2014.

The lack of public appearances and the sporadic messages attributed to him had led to speculation about his whereabouts, while also sparking numerous rumors of his death. But U.S. military and intelligence officials have long believed Baghdadi is alive and hiding in remote areas of Syria or Iraq where IS remains entrenched, possibly with local support.

Since 2016, the United States has offered a reward of up to $25 million for information that helps bring Baghdadi to justice. Only one other person, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, has a reward that high.

VOA’s Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.


UN: Myanmar is Not Safe for the Return of Rohingya Refugees

A U.N. investigator finds that two years after the violent expulsion of more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, the situation in their home country remains too dangerous for them to return from their refuge in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh.

U.N. Special Rapporteur, Yanghee Lee, says Myanmar commits ongoing gross violations of international law and uses brutal measures to repress ethnic minorities in Rakhine and southern Chin states.

She says many civilians have been killed and tens of thousands displaced by the indiscriminate use of heavy artillery and other methods of warfare used by both the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s armed forces, and the Arakan Army, an insurgent group in Rakhine.

She says by no stretch of the imagination is it possible to believe the Rohingya refugees would be safe if they returned to Myanmar. In August, she notes an agreement was hatched to repatriate 3,450 refugees.

She says Myanmar claims to have done what is necessary for the repatriation to be successful and blames Bangladesh for delays in the operation going ahead. She says the contrary is true.

“Myanmar has done nothing to dismantle the system of violence and persecution, and the Rohingya who remain in Rakhine live in the same dire circumstances that they did prior to the events of August 2017,” said Lee. “They are denied citizenship and recognition, face regular violence, including in the context of the ongoing conflict between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw.”

The U.N. investigator says the Rohingya are unable to move freely and have little access to food, health care, education, livelihoods and services.

Myanmar’s Permanent Representative to the U.N. in Geneva, Kyaw Moe Tun, denounces Yanghee Lee’s lack of impartiality, objectivity and good faith. He says Myanmar has zero tolerance for any violation of human rights and any form of violence, especially against children, women and the vulnerable.

He acknowledges no Rohingya have returned under the bilateral arrangements, but notes some Hindu and Muslim people have gone back on their own volition. He says it is crystal clear some people want to return.

He calls on the U.N. Human Rights Council to replace Yanghee Lee with a new special rapporteur who understands Myanmar’s history and recognizes the difficulties it faces in moving toward a democratic society.

Construction of Native American Veterans Memorial to Begin

This Saturday, the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington will break ground on a $15 million monument to Native American military veterans, after more than two decades of planning.

In 1994, Congress passed legislation calling for the museum to build the memorial, noting that Native Americans, Native Alaskans and Native Hawaiians have a “long, proud and distinguished tradition of service” in the U.S. Armed Forces, “in numbers which far exceed their representation in the population of the United States.”

The decorated hat of an American Indian veteran appears at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, in Bedford, Mass., Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007.

Logistical and funding issues, however, stalled the project. Congress did not commit funds for the memorial and ruled that it should be housed inside the NMAI.

That changed in 2013 when Congress clarified the bill, allowing NMAI to begin raising funds from private donors and gave the green light to constructing the monument on museum property. 

More than 120 artists submitted design proposals. Jurors were unanimous in selecting the winning design by Harvey Pratt, a former forensic artist, member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma and a veteran himself.

Headshot photo of Cheyenne/Arapaho artist Harvey Pratt, who submitted the winning design for a new Native American Veterans’ Memorial in Washington, D.C. Photo by and courtesy of Neil Chapman.

His design, “Warriors’ Circle of Honor,” features a three-and-a-half meter stainless steel circle, a symbol culturally and spiritually significant to tribes across the United States.

“Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle,” Lakota spiritual leader Nicholas Black Elk told his biographer, listing the sky, sun, Earth, stars and even the seasons. “The life of man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.”

But, as jurors noted in 2018, the circle is a symbol non-Native people can also relate to, making it an inclusive design.

Patriotic tradition

Today, at least 130,000 veterans identify as American Indian and Alaska Native. Some have been recognized as Purple Heart recipients, Bronze Star honorees, and been given the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest U.S. military award.

“I served in Vietnam in the Marine Corps with the 3rd Marine recon unit (Reconnaissance Battalion),” Pratt said. “I grew up with people who knew all the old ways and what we did with warriors.”

Photo taken at a reunion of Cherokees who fought for the South in the Civil War, New Orleans, 1093.

Native Americans have served in every U.S. war and conflict since the 18th century War of Independence from Britain.

More than 44,000 Native Americans served in World War II out of a total Native population of only 350,000. Today, about 31,000 Native Americans, Hawaiians and Alaskans are serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

Doug Good Feather, executive director of the Lakota Way Healing Center in Mead, Colorado, earlier explained these “old ways.”

“We were once warriors, and one of our rites of passage was to be accepted into warrior societies,” he said. “But we don’t have the old ways anymore. So, we go into the military to fulfill that rite of passage.  In our way of life, once you have accomplished that deed, you are always a warrior and you have a responsibility for the rest of your life to be of service to the people.”

To celebrate the upcoming groundbreaking ceremony, NMAI has planned a full day of events, including tours, history lessons and a conversation with Pratt, which will be streamed live on the NMAI website.

Pratt tells VOA he’s pleased that construction will finally get underway.

“I’m happy for our veterans and families of the past, present and future,” he said.

If all goes according to plan, the memorial will open in November 2020.

Economy, Honesty Key Concerns as Tunisians Choose Their President

Tunisians voted Sunday to select their next president among some two dozen candidates. More than seven million people were eligible to cast their ballot in what is only the North African country’s second free presidential election, eight years after its so-called Jasmine Revolution.

A steady stream of people filed into this primary school in the working class Tunis suburb of Ariana, lining up under posters offering instructions on how to vote. Nineteen-year-old college student Yomna El-Benna is excited to be voting for the first time.

“I’m going to vote for Mourou… for many reasons…. when I was deciding, I eliminated the persons who I’m not convinced with… they cannot lead Tunisia,” said El-Benna.

That’s Abdelfattah Mourou from the moderate Islamist Ennahdha party, running to replace 92-year-old president Beji Caid Essebsi who died in July. Mourou’s part of a dizzying lineup of presidential hopefuls, including two women. Among them: government ministers, far left politicians and jailed media tycoon Nabil Karoui. A runoff vote is expected, following next month’s legislative elections.

Zohra Goummid voted for Prime Minister Youssef Chahed. “He’s got experience, he’s young,’ she says. ‘We Tunisians know him well. The other candidates are just upstarts,” she said.

But with Tunisia’s economy sputtering and unemployment high, others are looking for new faces, outside the political establishment.

Retired professor Mohammed Sami Neffati voted for a friend of his: 61-year-old law expert Kais Saied, who opted for door-to-door campaigning instead of large rallies. He isn’t eloquent, Neffati says, but he’s got a chance, because he’s honest.

But other Tunisians stayed home, disappointed about the state of their country — and skeptical that any of the candidates can turn things around.


Somalia: Al-Shabab Attacks Kill 17

The al-Shabab militant group launched a series of attacks since Saturday that led to the death of at least 17 people in Somalia.

Lower Shabelle region officials told VOA Somali that the militants attacked the town of Qoryoley late Saturday using rocket propelled grenades and heavy machine guns, killing nine people.

The town’s Mayor Sayid Ali Ibrajim told VOA that an RPG fired by the militants caused most of the casualties.

Somali government forces with support from African Union forces, who are based outside the town, repelled the attack, according to officials.

Some of the residents in Qoryoley alleged that heavy weapons fired by AU troops caused some of the civilians casualties.

The Governor of the region Ibrahim Adan Najah told VOA Somali that they are investigating the allegations. AMISOM forces did not immediately respond to the allegations.

Also in Lower Shabelle region on Saturday, two civilians were killed after al-Shabab militants fired mortars on the ancient port town of Marka during a visit by the Prime Minister of Somalia Hassan Ai Khaire.

Al-Shabab claimed they were targeting the prime minister but the Governor Najah told VOA Somali that the incident took place outside the town. Residents and security sources said one of the mortars landed in a residential area killing two women. The prime minister was unharmed and has returned to Mogadishu safely.

Governor Najah himself was attacked on Sunday after his convoy was targeted with a remote-controlled explosion while travelling in an agricultural area near the town of Shalanbod, about 20 kilometers south of Qoryoley town. According to security sources, two bodyguards were killed and four others were injured including two junior regional officials.

In the neighboring Middle Shabelle region, al-Shabab carried out a roadside explosion that killed four regional officials and injured six others on Saturday. Among the dead was Abdullahi Shitawe, deputy governor for finances, Sabrie Osman a former regional deputy minister for business, and businessman Hassan Baldos. A fourth person said to be a bodyguard was also killed. They were travelling on a road in the north of the agricultural town of Bal’ad, about 40 kilometers north of Mogadishu.



Trump Defends Supreme Court Justice Over Fresh Misconduct Claim

US President Donald Trump mounted an angry defense of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Sunday as the controversial judge faced calls for an investigation over fresh allegations of sexual misconduct.

Trump blasted the media and “Radical Left Democrats” after a former Yale classmate of Kavanaugh alleged that the jurist — one of the most senior judges in the land  — exposed himself at a freshman year party before other students pushed his genitals into the hand of a female student.

The latest allegation in The New York Times came after Kavanaugh denied sexual misconduct accusations leveled against him by two women during his confirmation to the Supreme Court last October.

“Now the Radical Left Democrats and their Partner, the LameStream Media, are after Brett Kavanaugh again, talking loudly of their favorite word, impeachment,” Trump tweeted.

“He is an innocent man who has been treated HORRIBLY. Such lies about him. They want to scare him into turning Liberal!”

Now the Radical Left Democrats and their Partner, the LameStream Media, are after Brett Kavanaugh again, talking loudly of their favorite word, impeachment. He is an innocent man who has been treated HORRIBLY. Such lies about him. They want to scare him into turning Liberal!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2019

The new allegations came from Max Stier, who runs a non-profit in Washington. His concerns were reported to the FBI during Kavanaugh’s 2018 confirmation process but not investigated, according to the Times.

Stier said he saw his former classmate “with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.”

Stier has not spoken publicly about the incident but his story was corroborated by two officials, the Times said.

It is the latest in a string of accusations of unwanted sexual contact or assault against Kavanaugh since Trump nominated him to the Supreme Court.


Christine Blasey Ford testified before Congress that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in the 1980s, while Deborah Ramirez told The New Yorker Kavanaugh had waved his penis in front of her face at a 1980s dormitory party.

FILE – Professor Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Brett Kavanaugh of a sexual assault in 1982, testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington.

The latest allegation surfaced during a 10-month investigation by Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, and features in their upcoming book, “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation.”

Trump called on Kavanaugh to take legal action over the claims, suggesting also that the Department of Justice should intervene on the judge’s behalf and “come to his rescue.”

But Democrats seeking to be Trump’s opponent in the 2020 election called for the judge to be investigated.

“Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation is a shame to the Supreme Court. This latest allegation of assault must be investigated,” former housing secretary and Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro tweeted.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobouchar, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who was involved in a heated exchange with Kavanaugh during his confirmation, described the process as a “sham.”

“I strongly opposed him based on his views on executive power, which will continue to haunt our country, as well as how he behaved, including the allegations that we are hearing more about today,” she told ABC’s “This Week.”

Republican Senator Ted Cruz dismissed the new allegation, however, as “the obsession with the far left with trying to smear Justice Kavanaugh by going 30 years back with anonymous sources.”




Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Gets Tepid Turnout at Final Public Sendoff

The flag-draped coffin had arrived, followed by black-clad family members, their heads bowed. Several dozen suited dignitaries marched in, chests puffed out. Military members stood rigid and proud. All of the pomp and circumstance one would expect at the memorial for a man hailed as an African icon was in place Saturday for the final public sendoff for Robert Mugabe.

But there was just one thing missing: A crowd.

Final Public Sendoff for Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Draws Light Turnout video player.

Final Public Sendoff for Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Draws Light Turnout

Because, for the man known as the father of his nation, very few of Mugabe’s 16 million “children” showed up for his final public sendoff Saturday at Harare’s National Sports Stadium. The 60,000-capacity stadium was maybe one-third full. It was a poor showing compared to previous events, like the packed-to-the-rafters inauguration of the man who used the military to force Mugabe to resign two years ago.

Members of the public sit in the stands during the state funeral for former president Robert Mugabe, at the National Sports Stadium, in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe, Sept. 14, 2019.

Mugabe, the first president of independent Zimbabwe, died last week at the age of 95, after ruling for 37 years.

In attendance were a smattering of African heads of state and former heads of state – but no major leaders from outside the continent. Those who came included leaders like Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo – who has ruled Equatorial Guinea with an iron fist since 1979 – and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of independent Kenya’s first president. They praised Mugabe for fighting to liberate his country from the yoke of centuries of colonial rule.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa pays his respects to former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, at the National Sports stadium during a funeral ceremony in Harare, Sept, 14, 2019.

But his own family described Mugabe, who was forced to resign in 2017, as a bitter man. His widow, Grace, draped head-to-toe in black lace, stood on the dais, her head down. The family’s spokesman, Walter Chidakwa, hailed the leader, but also offered some sharp words.

“Towards the end of his life,” he said, “he was a sad man. A sad, sad, sad man.”

So where was everyone on this sunny Saturday?

Many were in one of Harare’s hours-long petrol queues – a consequence of the shattered economy that many blame Mugabe for.

The coffin carrying the remains of former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe arrives at the National Sports stadium during a funeral procession in Harare, Sept, 14, 2019.

 Teacher Betty Mukombani told VOA she had no interest in driving to the stadium to bid farewell. At the time, she was staring down a four-hour wait in a petrol queue just a five-minute drive from the stadium.

“He’s the one who ruined the economy of Zimbabwe, so I have no interest in burying such a criminal,” she said.
And others in the queue, like archeologist Happy Marufu, say they have real relatives they’d rather be with.

“I should be doing something else or sometimes even relaxing with my family,” he said.

Even those who turned out to see off the father of the nation couldn’t resist making a point about this country’s ruined economy.

They sang, hundreds of them: Before, bread cost $1. Now, it costs $10.

Congo: Confirmed Ebola Deaths Near 2,000, Cases Over 3,000

Congo’s National Ebola Response Committee says confirmed Ebola deaths in the east of the sprawling African nation are nearing 2,000 and confirmed cases of the virus have exceeded 3,000.

The committee released the latest numbers Friday after a discussion in Goma by the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church about efforts to help stem the spread of Ebola in communities. A mistrust of health workers and widespread security issues still threaten the fight against the second deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history in a region where armed groups have fought for decades over the mineral-rich land.

The committee reported 3,002 confirmed Ebola cases with 1,974 deaths.
The World Health Organization said Friday they recorded the lowest weekly incidence of Ebola since March 2019 with 40 new cases, but said it was unclear if this positive trend would continue.


US Hospital Ship Dispatched for Migrants in Trinidad and Tobago

While the political and economic crisis worsens in Venezuela, countries in the Western Hemisphere continue to be economically impacted by migrants seeking refuge and asylum. To help alleviate some of the burden, the United States Navy has deployed the Comfort hospital ship to assist countries like Colombia, Ecuador and Costa Rica. VOA’s Cristina Caicedo Smit visited the ship on one of its last stops, Trinidad and Tobago.