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Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 22:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

Foreign Influence Campaigns Ramp Up to Target US Voters

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 21:51
U.S. voting systems appear to be safe and secure ahead of next month’s midterm elections, according to senior U.S. officials who warn the more pressing danger could be efforts by countries like Russia and China to convince Americans otherwise. Just as in past elections, multiple state and nonstate actors are constantly reaching out through cyberspace to scan U.S. networks, looking for vulnerabilities that could allow them to meddle with the voting process. But as of now, officials say, would-be election meddlers appear to be stymied. “The FBI is not aware of any adversary cyber campaigns specifically targeting U.S. elections,” a senior official with the Federal Bureau of Investigation told reporters Monday, echoing recent assessments by other top U.S. cyber officials. The FBI official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the bureau in order to discuss sensitive information, cautioned, however, that there is — and has been — a concerted effort by multiple U.S. adversaries to seize on lingering doubts about the election system itself. “In particular, we are concerned malicious cyber actors could seek to spread or amplify false or exaggerated claims of compromise to election infrastructure,” the official said. Russia, China and Iran “will take advantage of sort of election integrity narratives that come up in the U.S. ecosystem,” said a second senior FBI official. "We've seen that already, specifically from Russia." In one possible example, the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP) Monday called out a series of tweets by a journalist working for Russian-state media suggesting U.S. voting machines are prone to hacking and other forms of manipulation. “Her tweets aimed to provide legitimacy for the Russian-run referendum to annex occupied regions in Ukraine, while also delegitimizing U.S. democratic processes,” said EIP, which bills itself as a nonpartisan coalition of researchers, government officials and social media platforms. “This narrative was actively translated and spread into multiple languages beyond English, including Japanese, Italian and Spanish,” according to EIP, which declined to share additional information so as not to draw more attention to the false claims. Requests by VOA to the Russian and Chinese embassies and the Iranian Mission to the U.N. for comment on the FBI’s warning were not immediately answered. Russia’s efforts to spread misinformation through its state-run media outlets, like RT and Sputnik, are not new.  Nor is the Kremlin’s effort to amplify divisive narratives generated by U.S. citizens about the security of U.S. elections. Still, the FBI warns those campaigns have grown and matured since Americans last went to the polls. “They’re sort of expanding the ecosystem that they are using to try and identify and recruit both witting and unwitting proxy organizations, not just in the U.S. but globally,” the second senior FBI official said. “From their perspective, I think we can infer that they think this has been relatively successful because it’s a toolkit they're trying to continue to use,” the official added. China also has become more aggressive in the aftermath of the 2020 U.S. election, when U.S. intelligence officials concluded Beijing ultimately decided not to engage in election meddling. This past March, the U.S. Justice Department charged a member of China’s Ministry of State Security with hiring a private investigator to disrupt the campaign of a former dissident and naturalized U.S. citizen who had announced his intentions to run for Congress. The FBI called it a “significant shift.” "There are a subset of [U.S.] candidates that hit both the threshold that really frustrates China regarding dissident perspectives and Beijing policy perspectives," the senior FBI official said. “They may be looking to pull a broader page out of the Russian playbook … do things like identify narratives that will exacerbate divisions,” the official added. As for Iran, senior FBI officials say it remains a danger, noting Tehran’s willingness to meddle in the 2020 election, when it hacked a voter registration database and sought to use the information to intimidate voters. At the time, Iran’s foreign ministry rejected the U.S. accusations as “baseless.” Officials have not observed Iran copying Russia and seizing upon U.S. narratives to stoke divisions. But a growing number of officials from a variety of agencies have voiced concern about what a bolder Iran may be willing to try. “Iran is probably top of mind for me because they have been so active,” Kim Wyman, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) senior election security adviser, said earlier this month. As for what Iran may do in the coming weeks, Wyman pointed to their efforts in 2020. “We anticipate they may try the same things,” she said. Officials with both the FBI and other U.S. government agencies said while they are confident Russia, China, Iran or other adversaries will not be able to manipulate U.S. voting systems to change the outcome of a particular race, they are not in position to assess whether the influence operations will be successful in changing the perceptions of U.S. voters. Some experts and former officials, though, warn that the impact foreign influence campaigns have on the hearts and minds of U.S. voters should not be ignored. “Meddling with elections is serious,” said Connie Uthoff, associate director of the George Washington University Cybersecurity Strategy and Information Management program. “Disinformation can be used to divide a populace, sow discord, and incite violence,” she told VOA via email. “When there's enough worries about the legitimacy of something, we can have horrific instances, such as the January 6 storming of the Capitol,” Glenn Gerstell, a former general counsel for the U.S. National Security Agency, told VOA. “It wasn't directly attributable to foreign disinformation, although there are certainly some strong suggestions that foreign disinformation played a role in amplifying domestic misinformation and disinformation.” FBI officials speaking Monday said there is no evidence so far to suggest any adversaries are specifically trying to incite violence in connection with the upcoming U.S. election in November. But there are ongoing concerns about the safety of U.S. election workers. The FBI officials said since June 2021, the bureau has gotten more than 1,000 reports of threats against election workers. Of those, 11% warranted further investigation, leading to four arrests. However, the officials said, it is noteworthy that almost 60% of the reported threats came from seven states – Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Wisconsin. All seven states either ran audits or saw considerable debate about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. As for ongoing threats, officials with the FBI and CISA have said they are taking them seriously. CISA has said it has also been working with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies about making sure there is adequate security for election workers, polling places and other election-related infrastructure.

Afghan National Institute of Music Performs First Concert in New Home

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 21:00
Afghanistan’s National Institute of Music has performed its first concert in its new home of Lisbon, Portugal. Members of the exiled school are determined to keep Afghan music alive even though they can’t play in their homeland. VOA’s Farkhunda Paimani and Munaza Shaheed attended the concert in Lisbon and filed this report narrated by Amy Katz. Camera: Nawid Orokzai

US, Philippine Forces Hold Combat Drills to Brace for Crisis

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 21:00
More than 2,500 U.S. and Philippine marines joined combat exercises Monday to respond to any crisis in a region long on tenterhooks over South China Sea territorial disputes and increasing tensions over Taiwan. The annual military drills are the first major exercise between the longtime treaty allies under newly elected Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., military officials said. His predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, was an outspoken critic of U.S. security policies and frowned on military exercises with American forces he said could offend China. Called Kamandag, the Tagalog acronym for “Cooperation of the Warriors of the Sea,” the drills involve 1,900 U.S. Marines and more than 600 mostly Philippine counterparts in mock amphibious assaults and special operations, U.S. and Philippine military officials said. America’s HIMARS missile launchers and supersonic fighter jets will take part in live-fire maneuvers that will end Oct. 14, they said. The venues include the western island province of Palawan, which faces the South China Sea, and the northern Philippines, across the Luzon Strait from Taiwan. Philippine Rear Admiral Caesar Bernard Valencia said the exercises will focus on enhancing coastal defenses and are not directed against any country. Japanese and South Korean forces will participate as observers but may join in disaster-response drills, he said. The military maneuvers are being held simultaneously with combat exercises between U.S. Marines and Japanese army forces on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido that involve about 3,000 military personnel from the two sides, U.S. military officials said. U.S. Maj. Gen. Jay Bargeron of the Japan-based 3rd Marine Division said the simultaneous exercises are aimed at bolstering the defensive capabilities of the U.S. alliances with the Philippines and Japan “through realistic combined training.” “These exercises will allow our forces to strengthen interoperability and readiness to ensure we are prepared to rapidly respond to crisis throughout the Indo-Pacific,” Bargeron said in a statement. “Our strength, resolve and commitment to our allies and partners in the region are our most effective deterrent,” U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Kurt Stahl told The Associated Press. “Together, we can deter potential adversaries from ever testing our capabilities or our relationships.” In July, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on China to comply with a 2016 arbitration ruling that invalidated Beijing’s vast territorial claims in the South China Sea and warned that Washington is obligated to defend the Philippines under a 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty if Filipino forces, vessels or aircraft come under attack in the disputed waters. The ruling was issued by an arbitration tribunal set up in The Hague under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea after the Philippine government complained in 2013 about China’s seizure of a shoal off its northwestern coast. China did not participate, called the arbitration decision a sham, and continues to defy it. In addition to China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims in the busy waterway, where an estimated $5 trillion in goods passes each year and which is believed to be rich in undersea gas and oil deposits. Separately, U.S. President Joe Biden said last month that American forces would defend Taiwan if Beijing tried to invade the self-ruled island, sparking protests from China. The long-simmering sea disputes and the increasingly tense relations between China and Taiwan have become key fronts of the U.S.-China rivalry.

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 21:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

Taiwan Launches English Language TV Channel to Give it More International Punch

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 20:33
Taiwan launched its first English-language news, lifestyle and entertainment television channel Monday to give it a bigger voice internationally at a time when China is squeezing the island's footprint and seeking to assert sovereignty. The government-backed TaiwanPlus began operations last year as a mostly online streaming platform and has been strongly supported by President Tsai Ing-wen. Speaking at the launch ceremony, Tsai said the channel has already raised Taiwan's international profile and would help as the island forges ever closer ties with "countries that share our core values of freedom and democracy." "The stories of Taiwan should be shared with the world," she said. "With more and more people around the world taking an interest in Taiwan it is more important than ever that we have a platform to bring Taiwan to the international community." China, which claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, is increasingly active in English-language media, conveying the ruling Communist Party's views to an outside audience, especially via state television's English-language news channel China Global Television Network, or CGTN. China is also pressuring Taiwan's international space, including forcing foreign companies to refer to it as being part of China on their websites and routinely carrying out military drills near the island. Culture Minister Lee Yung-te told reporters that Taiwan needed to be able to combat what China says about the island and put the Taiwanese viewpoint out. "Internationally our voice has not been fully heard. China continually disseminates that Taiwan is part of China, and lots of people believe that. You tell them that's not the case, and they ask, why?" Lee added. "So in the future we'll be using Taiwan's own media to explain to the international community why that's not so." The television channel is so far only available in Taiwan, but Lee said they were eyeing launching in the United States in the next six months. Taiwan already has a handful of domestic English-language media, the most prominent of which is the newspaper the Taipei Times, founded in 1999 and published by the mass circulation Liberty Times.

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 20:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

U.S. CDC Ends Country-Specific COVID Travel Health Notices

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 19:02
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Monday it had ended its COVID-19 country travel health notices as fewer countries reported enough data for accurate assessments. In April, the CDC dropped its "Do Not Travel" COVID-19 recommendations for about 90 international destinations, saying it would reserve its Level 4 travel health notices "for special circumstances." Level 4 calls for all Americans avoiding travel because of COVID-19, even those who are fully vaccinated. The CDC said Monday "as fewer countries are testing or reporting COVID-19 cases, the CDC’s ability to accurately assess the COVID-19 (travel health notice) levels for most destinations that American travelers visit is limited." Since April, the notices have drawn little attention since the CDC was not issuing blanket recommendations against travel for specific countries. As recently as March, the CDC recommended against travel to about 120 countries and territories worldwide, or more than half of all destinations. The notices had deterred some Americans from travel and on occasion sparked consternation in some countries. A recommendation not to travel to Japan in May 2021, months before the Olympics drew wide attention. The CDC said Monday it will only post a travel health notice "for a country if a situation, such as a concerning COVID-19 variant, is identified that changes CDC travel recommendations for that country."

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 19:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

From Ties With Fidel and Che to Exile for Cuban Journalist 

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 18:31
Fidel Castro loomed large in Abraham Jimenez Enoa's early years. His grandfather worked as a bodyguard for El Comandante and Che Guevara.   Jimenez Enoa's relatives were senior military figures in the Cuban government, and he lived a cushioned life at the heart of the communist establishment. Long ago, Che had gifted a treasured television set to Jimenez Enoa's grandparents for their wedding.    But Jimenez Enoa, now 33, turned his back on his family history to forge a career as an independent journalist, and it cost him dearly. In November, the Cuban government gave him an ultimatum: Leave or be jailed.   In January, he left.   While adjusting to a new life in Barcelona, Spain, Jimenez Enoa said the price was worth paying for reporting what he believed to be the truth.  "I was put under house arrest. My phone was bugged. I was later arrested, handcuffed, strip-searched and questioned by security officers. Then they secretly filmed me and put my image on television, claiming I was a CIA spy," Jimenez Enoa told VOA.   "Later, they telephoned me and said I had to leave the country or they would put me in prison and 'terminate' my family and the family of my wife."   The officers never explained what they meant by "terminate."   The International Press Center in Havana and the Cuban Embassy in Madrid did not reply to VOA's request for comments about this story.   Voices in exile   Jimenez Enoa's story is extraordinary but far from isolated. Several exiled Cuban journalists are carving out new lives in Spain, the United States or parts of Latin America.   Many left the country after having been imprisoned or persecuted. Others fled censorship. The harassment of media ramped up in 2021, after mass anti-government protests.    According to Prisoners Defenders, a Madrid-based nonprofit focused on human rights in Cuba, seven journalists were imprisoned in Cuba as of September 29. A further four were not in custody but were under house arrest or had their movement restricted in some other way.  For Jimenez Enoa, one small compensation for being barred from his homeland was receiving a 2022 International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists.   In honoring the Cuban exile, the CPJ said, it "recognizes that a new generation of Cuban journalists who only a few years ago saw a glimmer of hope for their independent projects are now facing the harsh reality of new restrictions and censorship that make reporting in Cuba as dangerous as ever."  But he might not be able to accept the prize in person. The ceremony is in November in New York, but his appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid to apply for a visa is not until next year.   Inside his Barcelona apartment, Jimenez Enoa keeps a few mementos of his old life: a book about the early days of Castro's revolution and a picture on the wall of a Cuba libre, the famous iced cocktail made of rum, lime juice and cola.     He originally wanted to be a television or radio sports journalist. "I didn't pronounce my words carefully, spoke too quickly, so I decided to write," he said.   In 2016, he founded El Estornudo, — The Sneeze — an online magazine that reports on prostitution, poverty, human rights and other subjects that are taboo for Cuba's state-run media.   "We started to report on the hidden truth about the country, and that's when the oppression started," he said.   "They put me under house arrest. They bothered me in the street. They listened to my home phone. This went on until I left the country."   For members of his family, who had spent their entire lives believing in the revolution, it was hard to accept that Jimenez Enoa had turned his back on his roots.  In 2019, he started writing an opinion column for The Washington Post, but this only increased the repression from Havana, he said.    "It was the first time that a Cuban had a column in the Post. They arrested me. They took me to the police station handcuffed and with my head pushed down in the wagon on our way there," he said.   "They started interrogating me. They were very upset about The Washington Post. They secretly filmed me, and later, they edited my words and later put out a story on the television saying I was an agent of the CIA."   It was the worst thing for his family. His father — a lieutenant colonel in the Ministry of the Interior — had to retire early, his sister lost her job as a captain in the military, and his mother had to leave her job in a tourism company.   For a while, Jimenez Enoa said, they were distraught and would not speak to him.   Since then, they have become reconciled to his work and speak to him via messaging every week, even though he lives 7,900 kilometers away.   Truth blocked   Despite everything, Jimenez Enoa misses Cuba. Adapting to life in the West with his wife and 2-year-old son has been hard, as has been the shift from communism to capitalism.   "In Cuba, to have one egg is normal. But here it is normal to have 25 types of cheese, 26 types of ham and 36 types of milk. The advertising is very aggressive. I must get used to lots of things," he said.   As he finds his way in his adopted home, one comfort is that he is not alone in his plight.   Wendy Lazcano Exposito is a journalist for Diario de Cuba, a news website that reports on events that the state media will not cover.   The 29-year-old came to Spain nine years ago, after realizing that a career as an independent journalist in her own country was impossible.   Lazcano Exposito said readers mainly come from America and Europe because it is hard to access her newspaper from inside Cuba.   "We are blocked in Cuba, and you need a VPN [virtual private network] number to access us inside Cuba. That is difficult to get," she told VOA from her flat in Madrid.   Her newspaper allows the families of Cuban prisoners to tell their stories and air their concerns. Cubans share her and her fellow journalists' reports about the country on social media, she said.   "In some ways, we know more about what is going on in the country than the people inside it," she said.     Her family immigrated to Spain in search of a better life.   "I thought about being a journalist in Cuba, but it was very complicated. There is no freedom. They are all state employers," she said.   "Two journalists from my paper, after the protests last year, had to leave the country. Being an independent journalist means they can indict you, they can seize your work material, your camera, your computer. They can cut the internet. They can also make life difficult for your family," she said.   "Nobody wants to be a heroine. Everyone wants to live their lives."   Jimenez Enoa also has no desire to be a hero — or the next famous Cuban revolutionary. He is not on a mission to bring down the government, he said.    "I am not against communism. I am a left-wing person. I just wanted to write the truth about what was happening in my country."   Alfonso Beato contributed to this report.  

Cuban Journalist Prioritizes Truth Over Revolutionary Roots  

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 18:23
Abraham Jimenez Enoa comes from one of Cuba's revolutionary families, but he turned his back on that life to report the truth. Now, like so many of Cuba's independent voices, he is living in exile. Graham Keeley has more for VOA from Barcelona, Spain, in the story narrated by Miguel Amaya. Videographer: Alfonso Beato

Albania Denies Police System Was Attacked by Iranian Hackers

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 18:11
Albanian authorities Monday denied the country's police system was hacked after local media reported that data on people being investigated for crimes was released from an Iranian hacking group. Albanian media reported a leaked file with a list of suspected people, from allegedly the police database, who are being probed on different crimes. Ervin Karamuco, a criminology professor, was quoted in social media as saying a channel called Homeland Justice had published 1.7 gigabytes of criminal data from the Memex police system. State police denied its Memex system was damaged but urged local media not to publish data from hackers. Interior Minister Bledi Cuci said that list had not come from the criminal police database. He said Microsoft and the FBI were helping Albanian authorities recuperate the affected systems. Speaking at the Parliament, Prime Minister Edi Rama said the list aimed at creating social disturbances by issuing a "photo-edited list mixing criminals with politicians, with journalists." Last month Albania cut diplomatic ties with Iran over a July 15 cyberattack that temporarily shut down numerous Albanian government digital services and websites. Rama called the disruption an act of "state aggression." After Tirana severed ties with Tehran, a second cyberattack from the same Iranian source struck an information system that records Albanian border entries and exits, creating delays for travelers. NATO, the United States and the European Union denounced the attack and supported Albania's move to cut diplomatic ties with Tehran. The U.S. government-imposed sanctions on Iran's intelligence agency and its leadership in response to the July cyberattack. Albania, a NATO member, is being helped by the alliance, the U.S. and the EU to investigate and install better cyber defenses.

Abuse in US Women's Pro Soccer League Was Systemic, Report Says

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 18:09
An independent investigation into the scandals that erupted in the National Women's Soccer League last season found emotional abuse and sexual misconduct were systemic in the sport, impacting multiple teams, coaches and players, according to a report released Monday. "Abuse in the NWSL is rooted in a deeper culture in women's soccer, beginning in youth leagues that normalizes verbally abusive coaching and blurs boundaries between coaches and players," former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Q. Yates wrote in her report on the investigation. U.S. Soccer commissioned the investigation by Yates and the law firm King & Spaulding after former NWSL players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim came forward with allegations of harassment and sexual coercion dating back a decade involving former coach Paul Riley. Their account was published by The Athletic in September 2021. Riley, who denied the allegations, was quickly fired as head coach of the North Carolina Courage, and NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird stepped down. But it was clear the problems were widespread. Five of the 10 head coaches in the NWSL last season either were fired or stepped down amid allegations of misconduct. "The verbal and emotional abuse players describe in the NWSL is not merely 'tough' coaching. And the players affected are not shrinking violets. They are among the best athletes in the world," Yates wrote. More than 200 people were interviewed by investigators. Some two dozen entities and individuals provided documents. U.S. Soccer also provided documents and the firm reviewed 89,000 deemed likely to be relevant. U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone called the findings "heartbreaking and deeply troubling." "The abuse described is inexcusable and has no place on any playing field, in any training facility or workplace," she said in a statement. "As the national governing body for our sport, U.S. Soccer is fully committed to doing everything in its power to ensure that all players — at all levels — have a safe and respectful place to learn, grow and compete." The report made numerous recommendations to prioritize player health and safety. Among them is the requirement that teams accurately disclose coach misconduct to the league and the soccer federation to ensure coaches aren't allowed to move between teams. It also calls for meaningful vetting of coaches and timely investigation into allegations of abuse. The NWSL said it was in the process of reviewing the report. The league and the NWSL Players Association is also investigating. The investigation focused on three former coaches, Riley, Christy Holly of Racing Louisville and Rory Dames of the Chicago Red Stars. It recounts an April 2021 encounter between Holly and a player, Erin Simon, who now plays in Europe. Holly invited her to watch a game film with him and allegedly told her that for every pass she messed up, he was going to touch her. Simon told investigators Holly "pushed his hands down her pants and up her shirt." Simon, now with Leicester City, said too many athletes suffer in silence because they are afraid they won't be heard. "I know because that is how I felt," the 28-year-old said in a statement. "Through many difficult days, my faith alone sustained me and kept me going. I want to do everything in my power to ensure that no other player must experience what I did. This report allows our voices to finally be heard and is the first step toward achieving the respectful workplace we all deserve." Holly was terminated for cause, but Racing Louisville declined to publicly state the reason. Yates' report noted that Racing did not provide investigators with details about Holly's employment, citing mutual nondisclosure and non-disparagement clauses. Farrelly said the harassment she experienced began in 2011 when she was a player with the Philadelphia Independence of the Women's Professional Soccer League. Riley was her coach. She told The Athletic the abuse by Riley continued when she was with the Portland Thorns in 2014 and 2015. Shim, a former Thorns player, also said she experienced harassment. Neither woman is playing in the NWSL now. The Thorns said they investigated Riley in 2015 while he was with the team and reported the findings to the league. They did not renew his contract but did not make the reasons public. The report said the Thorns were not forthcoming with certain information and they attempted to prevent investigators from using the team's 2015 report. "The Portland Thorns interfered with our access to relevant witnesses and raised specious legal arguments in an attempt to impede our use of relevant documents," Yates wrote. Riley went on to coach the Western New York Flash, which later moved to North Carolina and was renamed. When the scandal broke last year, former Thorns forward Alex Morgan posted to social media: "The league was informed of these allegations multiple times and refused multiple times to investigate the allegations. The league must accept responsibility for a process that failed to protect its own players from this abuse." Morgan also said Shim and Farrelly asked the NWSL earlier last year for a new investigation into Riley's behavior but were rebuffed. U.S. Soccer said its board of directors and a leadership team would immediately begin implementing the report's recommendations. "U.S. Soccer and the entire soccer community have to do better, and I have faith that we can use this report and its recommendations as a critical turning point for every organization tasked with ensuring player safety," Parlow Cone said. "We have significant work to do, and we're committed to doing that work and leading change across the entire soccer community."

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 18:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

Iran's Supreme Leader Breaks Silence on Protests, Blames US

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 17:24
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded publicly on Monday to the biggest protests in Iran in years, breaking weeks of silence to condemn what he called "rioting" and accuse the United States and Israel of planning the protests.  The unrest, ignited by the death of a young woman in the custody of Iran's morality police, is flaring up across the country for a third week despite government efforts to crack down.  On Monday, Iran shuttered its top technology university following an hourslong standoff between students and the police that turned the prestigious institution into the latest flashpoint of protests and ended with hundreds of young people arrested.  Speaking to a cadre of police students in Tehran, Khamenei said he was "deeply heartbroken" by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody, calling it a "tragic incident." However, he lambasted the protests as a foreign plot to destabilize Iran, echoing authorities' previous comments.  "This rioting was planned," he said. "These riots and insecurities were designed by America and the Zionist regime, and their employees."  Meanwhile, Sharif University of Technology in Tehran announced that only doctoral students would be allowed on campus until further notice following hours of turmoil Sunday, when witnesses said antigovernment protesters clashed with pro-establishment students.  The witnesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the police kept hundreds of students holed up on campus and fired rounds of tear gas to disperse the demonstrations. The student association said plainclothes officers surrounded the school from all sides as protests roiled the campus after nightfall and detained at least 300 students.  Plainclothes officers beat a professor and several university employees, the association said.  The state-run IRNA news agency sought to downplay the violent standoff, reporting a "protest gathering" took place without causing casualties. But it also said police released 30 students from detention, acknowledging many had been caught in the dragnet by mistake as they tried to go home.  The crackdown sparked backlash Monday at home and abroad.  "Suppose we beat and arrest, is this the solution?" asked a column in the Jomhouri Eslami daily, a hard-line Iranian newspaper. "Is this productive?"  The White House on Monday denounced the crackdown by Iranian security forces against peaceful protests in Iran, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.  "We're alarmed and appalled by reports of security authorities' responding to university students' peaceful protests with violence and mass arrests," she told reporters traveling with President Joe Biden to Puerto Rico.  German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock condemned the "regime's brute force" at Sharif University as "an expression of sheer fear at the power of education and freedom."  "The courage of Iranians is incredible," she said.  Iran's latest protest movement, which has produced some of the nation's most widespread unrest in years, emerged as a response to Amini's death after her arrest for allegedly violating the country's strict Islamic dress code. It has since grown into an open challenge to the Iranian leadership, with women burning their state-mandated headscarves and chants of "Death to the dictator," echoing from streets and balconies after dark.  The demonstrations have tapped a deep well of grievances in Iran, including the country's social restrictions, political repression and ailing economy strangled by American sanctions. The unrest has continued in Tehran and far-flung provinces even as authorities have disrupted internet access and blocked social media apps.  Protests also have spread across the Middle East and to Europe and North America. Thousands poured into the streets of Los Angeles to show solidarity. Police scuffled with protesters outside Iranian embassies in London and Athens. Crowds chanted "Woman! Life! Freedom!" in Paris.  In his remarks on Monday, Khamenei condemned scenes of protesters ripping off their hijabs and setting fire to mosques, banks and police cars as "actions that are not normal, that are unnatural." He warned that "those who foment unrest to sabotage the Islamic Republic deserve harsh prosecution and punishment."  Security forces have responded with tear gas, metal pellets and in some cases live fire, according to rights groups and widely shared footage, although the scope of the crackdown remains unclear.  Iran's state TV has reported the death toll from violent clashes between protesters and security officers could be as high as 41. Rights groups have given higher death counts, with London-based Amnesty International saying it has identified 52 victims.  An untold number of people have been apprehended, with local officials reporting at least 1,500 arrests. Security forces have picked up artists who have voiced support for the protests and dozens of journalists. Most recently Sunday, authorities arrested Alborz Nezami, a reporter at an economic newspaper in Tehran.  Iran's intelligence ministry said nine foreigners have been detained over the protests. A 30-year-old Italian traveler named Alessia Piperno called her parents on Sunday to say she had been arrested, her father Alberto Piperno told Italian news agency ANSA.  "We are very worried," he said. "The situation isn't going well."  Most of the protesters appear to be under 25, according to witnesses — Iranians who have grown up knowing little but global isolation and severe Western sanctions linked to Iran's nuclear program.   Talks to revive the landmark 2015 nuclear deal have stalled for months, fueling discontent as Iran's currency declines in value and prices soar.  A Tehran-based university teacher, Shahindokht Kharazmi, said the new generation has come up with unpredictable ways to defy authorities.  "The [young protesters] have learned the strategy from video games and play to win," Kharazmi told the pro-reform Etemad newspaper. "There is no such thing as defeat for them."  As the new academic year began this week, students at universities in major cities across Iran gathered in protest, according to videos widely shared on social media, clapping, chanting slogans against the government and waving their headscarves.  The eruption of student anger has worried the Islamic Republic since at least 1999, when security forces and supporters of hard-line clerics attacked students protesting media restrictions. That wave of student protests under former reformist President Mohammad Khatami touched off the worst street battles since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.  "Don't call it a protest, it's a revolution now," shouted students at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, as women set their hijabs alight.  "Students are awake, they hate the leadership!" chanted crowds at the University of Mazandaran in the country's north.  Riot police have been out in force, patrolling streets near universities on motorbikes.   

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 17:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

Azovstal Defender's Wife Grateful for His Release From Russian Captivity

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 16:54
Serhiy Volynskyy was one of the military commanders of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Ukrainian fighters holed up in the heavily fortified plant and withstood a month of Russian attacks before finally surrendering. He was recently released after spending months in Russian captivity. Lesia Bakalets talked to his wife, Ruslana Volynska. Anna Rice narrates her story. Videographer: Lesia Bakalets         

Cuban Journalist Prioritizes Truth Over Revolutionary Roots  

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 16:45
Abraham Jiménez Enoa comes from one of Cuba’s revolutionary families, but he turned his back on that life to report the truth. Now, like so many of Cuba’s independent voices, he is in exile. For VOA, Graham Keeley has more from Barcelona, Spain. Camera: Alfonso Beato

US Expected to Send Mobile Rocket Launchers to Ukraine in $625 Million Aid Package

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 16:05
The Biden administration's next security assistance package for Ukraine is expected to include four High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers, munitions, mines and mine-resistant vehicles, two sources briefed on the $625 million package told Reuters on Monday.  The package, expected to be announced as soon as Tuesday, is the first aid package since Russia's most recent declared annexation of Ukrainian territory and the second Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) since Ukraine made large battlefield gains in mid-September.  Russia's declared annexations followed what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kyiv said the votes breached international law and were coercive and nonrepresentative.  By using drawdown authority, the four HIMARS launchers and associated rockets, some 200 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, ammunition for Howitzers and mines, can be sent to Ukraine in the coming days.  Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) allows the U.S. to transfer articles and services from stocks quickly without congressional approval in response to an emergency.  This is the first package of the U.S. government's 2023 fiscal year, which is currently functioning under a stopgap funding measure and allows President Joe Biden to draw down up to $3.7 billion in surplus weapons for transfer to Ukraine through mid-December.  Last week, the United States unveiled a $1.1 billion arms package for Ukraine that included 18 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launcher systems, accompanying munitions, various types of counter drone systems and radar systems.  But last week's aid package was funded by the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), meaning the government has to procure the weapons from industry, rather than pulling them from existing U.S. weapons stocks.  Made by Lockheed Martin, the HIMARS launchers' accuracy and longer range have allowed Kyiv to reduce Russia's artillery advantage.  The U.S. has thus far pledged 16 HIMARS launchers to Ukraine using PDA.  The White House declined to comment on the package.  The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the weapons package can change in value and content until the last minute.  This announcement would mark more than $16.8 billion worth of U.S. security assistance since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.   

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - October 3, 2022 - 16:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

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