World News

Iraqi Troops Close in on IS Fighters in Battle for Ramadi

VOA News Iraqi troops closed in on Islamic State fighters Wednesday in central Ramadi, where they are trying to retake the city they lost seven months ago and further shrink the IS "caliphate." In the second day of a major offensive, forces led by an elite counterterrorism unit pushed toward the government complex in Ramadi, capital of Iraq's Anbar province.  Several hundred IS fighters are believed to have barricaded themselves in the city center. “The army is moving slowly into the city to take over government buildings," Iraqi Lieutenant General Anwar Hama Amin said.  "There are a lot of booby-traps…
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Featured

One of First Openly Gay Married US Troops Killed in Afghan Blast

VOA News Among those killed Monday when a Taliban suicide bomber attacked a patrol in southern Afghanistan was the first openly gay female soldier to die in combat. The Pentagon identified 36-year-old Air Force Major Adrianna Vorderbruggen as one of the six troops killed in the blast. In 2012, she married her partner Heather Lamb in what was one of the first marriages involving an openly gay service member since President Barack Obama repealed the nearly 20-year-old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.  That rule kept openly gay people from serving in the military. "Our consolation is, we know she wanted…
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US News

New Zealand Judge Rules Kim Dotcom Can Be Extradited to US

VOA News December 23, 2015 A judge in New Zealand ruled Wednesday that Kim Dotcom, the founder of the former file-sharing service Megaupload, can be extradited to the United States to face charges of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering. Dotcom's lawyers said he will appeal the decision.  New Zealand Justice Minister Amy Adams must ultimately approve the extradition request and said she will not give her decision until the appeals process is finished. Wednesday's decision also included three others linked to Megaupload who have been charged in the United States. The has been trying to prosecute Dotcom since 2012…
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US News

US Foreign Aid Budget Targets Terrorism, Mideast Instability

CAPITOL HILL—The massive, year-end spending bill passed by Congress on Friday contains a boost for foreign aid, putting a strong focus on anti-terrorism efforts and addressing instability in the Middle East. It also aims to protect American diplomats and facilities abroad and to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need. Overall spending for State and Foreign Operations in 2016 totals roughly $53 billion – up almost $ billion from the 2015 budget. That money funds the State Department, Agency for International Development and a number of other international programs, including the Voice of America. Financing the war on terror Some…
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US News

US Expands Sanctions Against Russia

VOA News The United States Treasury Department Tuesday imposed sanctions on 34 individuals and entities for previous sanctions evasion and other activities related to Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. The Treasury also announced that a number of majority-owned subsidiaries of Russian state banks, Sberbank and VTB, as well as defense company Rostec would be subject to sanctions already imposed on their parent companies. The measure supports “the commitment to seek a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine” and “to a policy of non-recognition with respect to Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea," a Treasury statement said. The sanctions would stay in…
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US News

Drugmaker KaloBios Fires CEO Shkreli

VOA News December 22, 2015 A pharmaceutical company announced Monday it had terminated CEO Martin Shkreli in what is the latest fallout from his arrest last week on security fraud charges. KaloBios said Shkreli was fired on Thursday, the same day he was arrested and stepped down as CEO of another drugmaker, Turing Pharmaceuticals. He drew ire earlier this year when Turing bought a drug used by patients with AIDS and certain types of cancer and promptly raised its price from $ to $700 per pill. The 32-year-old told the Wall Street Journal that his arrest is an "injustice" and…
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Featured

US Alters Policy to Declare Veteran Deaths

Associated Press December 22, 2015 3:02 PM SEMINOLE, FLA.—The federal government has acknowledged that it wrongly declared more than 100 veterans dead and suspended their benefit payments, and says it is changing its policy of confirming Rieker, a 69-year-old Vietnam War Navy veteran who was among those wrongly declared dead, said his situation turned serious when he realized he might go weeks or more without a benefits check while the situation was ironed out. "I spent five minutes arguing on the phone with a lady about me being dead,'' he said with a wry smile at a news conference Tuesday.…
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Featured

Texas Grand Jury Returns No Indictments in Sandra Bland’s Death

VOA News December 22, 2015 A grand jury in the southern state of Texas decided Monday not to charge anyone in connection with the death of a woman who was arrested during a traffic stop and later died in jail. Special prosecutor Darrell Jordan said that while no officers or jail staff were indicted, the panel will return next month to consider other aspects of the case. A trooper pulled over 28-year-old Sandra Bland in July for failing to signal a lane change.  Their interaction, which was recorded by a dashcam, escalated into an argument with the trooper trying to…
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Politics

Trump, Clinton Trade Attacks From Top of Polls

VOA News Democrats and Republicans have yet to choose their official candidates for next year's presidential election, but that has not stopped front-runners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump from attacking each other. Monday began with Trump calling Clinton a liar and demanding she apologize for her claim during Saturday's Democratic debate that Islamic State militants are using videos of his comments as a recruiting tool.  Her campaign later said they were not aware of a specific video, but that Trump's comments about Muslims are helping jihadists. A Clinton spokesman, speaking to CNN, put the response to Trump simply: "Hell no."…
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World News

IS Launches FM Radio Channel in Eastern Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD—The Islamic State group has launched an FM radio channel in eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar province. Local journalist Anaat Khan said the channel has been active for almost a month and can be heard in the provincial capital Jalalabad. Local Provincial Council Member Zabihullah Zmaray said the broadcast lasts two hours daily from 6-8 and tries to convince the local population that their current system is un-Islamic. “They broadcast propaganda in their favor and against the state in order to turn the people against the government. But in the last decade people have become aware and they are not falling for…
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