Kenyan Fashion Designers Struggle to Grow Business

The fashion and textile industry could generate nearly half a million jobs in sub-Saharan Africa over the next decade. That’s according to the African Development Bank, which launched its “Fashionomics” initiative in 2015 to revitalize the industry. However, designers in the region still struggle to grow their businesses. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Local "Souper-Hero" Serves Seasonal Soup with Help from Local Family Farm

Each year in America, when summer ends and fall begins, it’s a safe bet you’ll find pumpkins and sweet potatoes flavoring everything from coffee to pie. It’s seasonal food that makes its way from farms to tables around the country from Thanksgiving to Christmas time. VOA’s Arash Arabasadi reports from a local farm feeding local produce to a local business stewing seasonal sensations.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Uber CEO Says Company Failed to Disclose Massive Breach in 2016

Uber Technologies Inc failed to disclose a massive breach last year that exposed the data of some 57 million users of the ride-sharing service, the company’s new chief executive officer said on Tuesday.

Discovery of the company’s handling of the incident led to the departure of two employees who led Uber’s response to the incident, said Dara Khosrowshahi, who was named CEO in August following the departure of founder Travis Kalanick. Khosrowshahi said he had only recently learned of the matter himself.

The company’s admission that it failed to disclose the breach comes as Uber seeks to recover from a series of crises that culminated in the Kalanick’s ouster in June.

“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Khosrowshahi said in a blog post.

According to the company’s account, two individuals downloaded data from a web-based server at another company that provided Uber with cloud-computing services.

The data contained names, email addresses and mobile phone numbers of some 57 million Uber users around the world. The hackers also downloaded names and driver’s license numbers of some 600,000 of the company’s U.S. drivers, Khosrowshahi said in a blog post.

Bloomberg News reported that Uber’s chief security officer Joe Sullivan and a deputy had been ousted from the company this week because of their role in the handling of the incident. The company paid hackers $100,000 to delete the stolen data, according to Bloomberg.

Though such payoffs are rarely discussed in public, U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation officials and private security companies have told Reuters in the past year that an increasing number of companies have made payments to criminal hackers who have turned to extortion.

None have previously come to light that aimed to suppress breaches that would have required public disclosure, such as those involving protected personal information. Sullivan did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Sullivan, formerly the top security official at Facebook Inc, is a former federal prosecutor and one of the most admired security executives in Silicon Valley.

Kalanick learned of the breach a month after it took place, in November 2016, as the company was in negotiations with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over the handling of consumer data, according to Bloomberg.

Uber representatives did not respond when asked to comment on the Bloomberg report.

Khosrowshahi said he had hired Matt Olsen, former general counsel of the U.S. National Security Agency, to help him figure out how to best guide and structure the company’s security teams and processes.

“While I can’t erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes,” he said. “We are changing the way we do business, putting integrity at the core of every decision we make and working hard to earn the trust of our customers.”


$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Trump Indicates Support for Moore in Alabama Senate Race

U.S. President Donald Trump all but endorsed embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore on Tuesday, saying the former state judge “totally denies” allegations that he sexually molested underage girls years ago.

“I can tell you one thing for sure: We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

Moore’s opponent in the Senate race, Democrat Doug Jones, has a record that is “terrible on crime, it’s terrible on the border, it’s terrible on the military,” Trump said.

Trump said he would announce next week whether he will campaign on the Republican candidate’s behalf.

Moore’s campaign has been in turmoil since The Washington Post published a story detailing the accounts of three women who claimed he pursued them while they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. Three more women have since spoken out with allegations of their own.

Moore has adamantly rejected accusations of sexual abuse, but prominent Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and two former presidential candidates, Senator John McCain of Arizona and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, have called for him to end his candidacy.

Trump, himself the subject of sexual abuse allegations during his 2016 presidential campaign, which he said were false, had said little about the accusations against Moore until Tuesday. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that Trump thought it was “up to the people of Alabama who their next senator will be.”

But earlier, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway described Jones as a “doctrinaire liberal” who would vote against tax cuts the Trump administration is pushing Congress to adopt.

Asked whether the White House was asking people to vote for Moore, Conway deflected the question, but said, “I’m telling you we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.”

One of Moore’s accusers, Leigh Corfman, told NBC on Monday that it took her decades before she regained her sense of trust and confidence in herself after the 1979 encounter she alleges she had with him.

Now 53, Corfman said she was “a 14-year-old child trying to play in an adult’s world” but that she “didn’t deserve to have a 32-year-old man prey upon” her.

“I was expecting candlelight and roses; what I got was very different,” she said. “I felt guilty. I felt like I was the one to blame.

“I met him around the corner from my house — my mother did not know — and he took me to his home,” Corfman said. “After arriving at his home on the second occasion that I went with him, he basically laid out some blankets on the floor of his living room and proceeded to … seduce me, I guess you would say.”

Corfman’s accusations against Moore first appeared in the Post more than a week ago.

She told the newspaper that Moore took off her “shirt and pants and removed his clothes,” touched her over her bra and underpants and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear before she ended the encounter. She asked him to take her home, and he did.

Moore leads an expanding list of lawmakers accused of sexual misconduct. On Monday, the website BuzzFeed alleged that longtime U.S. Representative John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, paid $27,000 to a woman who alleged that he’d fired her from his Washington staff after she rebuffed his sexual overtures.

Conyers, 88, at first denied the report, then on Tuesday he acknowledged the settlement, which he said he made to avoid protracted litigation. But he continued to deny he had sexually harassed the woman.

Ryan, the leader of the majority Republicans in the chamber, called the allegation “extremely troubling. People who work in the House deserve and are entitled to a workplace without harassment or discrimination.”

Leaders of the House Ethics Committee said they were opening an investigation into the allegations, including whether Conyers had used official resources for impermissible personal purposes. Conyers said he would fully cooperate.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Venezuela Arrests Top Citgo Executives

Venezuelan authorities arrested the acting president of Citgo, the U.S. subsidiary of state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), along with five other senior executives Tuesday for alleged corruption.

Attorney General Tarek William Saab told a press conference that interim president Jose Pereira and other managers allegedly arranged contracts that put Citgo at a disadvantage. The company operates refineries in Illinois, Texas and Louisiana with a capacity of 749,000 barrels per day.

“They did it with total discretion, without even coordinating with the competent authorities,” Saab said. “This is corruption, corruption of the most rotten kind.”

The six were accused of misappropriation of public funds, association to commit crimes and legitimation of capital, among other crimes.

The other five detainees were identified as Tomeu Vadell, vice president of Refining Operations; Alirio Zambrano, vice president and general manager of the Corpus Christi Refinery; Jorge Toledo, Vice President of Supply and Marketing; Gustavo Cardenas, Vice President of Strategic Relations with Shareholders and Government, and Jose Luis Zambrano; Vice President of Shared Services.

Last month, a senior executive of PDVSA and a dozen officials were arrested for alleged embezzlement.

But members of the Venezuelan opposition argue that recent investigations do not demonstrate a genuine intention of the government to eradicate corruption, but only reflect internal struggles of PDVSA.

VOA Latin America contributed to this report.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

White House Asks Supreme Court to Uphold Travel Ban

The White House is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a ban on travelers from six countries after an appeals court in California last week allowed only parts of the president’s order to go into effect.

The request on Monday is the most recent salvo in an ongoing legal skirmish between plaintiffs in federal court and President Donald Trump’s administration, which has issued three variations of an executive order since January in an attempt to block travelers from some countries from coming to the United States.

The state of Hawaii, which sued to block the restrictions, argued that federal immigration law did not give Trump the authority to impose a ban on six of the eight countries included in the third and most recent ban, issued in September.

U.S. officials say Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen are not in compliance with certain security screening measures. They are also Muslim-majority countries — a sticking point for the previous two versions of the order, first in January then in March — and the subject of related lawsuits.

The Hawaii lawsuit did not challenge restrictions toward people from the two other countries listed in Trump’s most recent ban, North Korea and Venezuela.

A three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Nov. 13 partially granted a Trump administration request to block at least temporarily a judge’s ruling that had put the new ban on hold. It ruled the government could bar entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries with no connections to the United States.

Meanwhile, in a document obtained by Politico, and first reported late Monday, Inspector General John Roth at the Department of Homeland Security said the federal agency, which oversees many of the practical aspects of the travel bans, such as security at ports of entry, made several missteps while trying to carry out the orders.

Roth, an internal watchdog at the agency, said in a letter to members of Congress who requested the review of the travel bans, that senior DHS officials have also been slow to release the findings of his report sent to them Oct. 6.

In summarizing the report, he noted that while federal officials “largely complied” with the court orders restricting how the travel ban was implemented, U.S. Customs and Border Protection had violated two of them. CBP lacked clear guidance from senior officials during a hastily executed process, Roth said in the letter.

“During the early period of the implementation of the order, neither CBP nor the Department was sure of the answers to basic questions as to the scope of the order, such as whether the order applied to Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), a significant percentage of the affected travelers and a fundamental question that should have been resolved early in the process,” Roth wrote.

DHS issued a press statement on the report Tuesday, saying it is in the midst of a “sensitivity review” and has not yet decided “whether it will invoke the attorney-client privilege or deliberative process privilege over portions of the report, which would prevent release of significant portions to the Congress and the public.”

Material from Reuters was used in this report.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

US Charges Iranian National With Hacking HBO Computer Systems

U.S. prosecutors charged an Iranian with hacking into computer systems of the cable TV channel HBO earlier this year, stealing information about the hit program “Game of Thrones” and attempting to extort millions of dollars from the company.

In an indictment Tuesday, prosecutors said 29-year-old Behzad Mesri has had ties to Iran’s military and is a member of an Iran-based hacking group known as the Turk Black Hat security team.


Mesril’s stolen material included video of unaired episodes of several original HBO shows, scripts and plot summaries of upcoming episodes of “Game of Thrones,” and confidential cast and crew contact information, according to the indictment.

Mesri claims to have stolen 1.5 terabytes of data from HBO.

Demanded $6 million in Bitcoin

In late July, Mesri emailed HBO executives on several occasions, threatening to release the material unless the entertainment company paid him $5.5 million worth of Bitcoin digital currency, a ransom amount he later increased to $6 million.


“Hi to all losers! Yes, it’s true.  HBO is hacked! Beware of heart attack!!!” he allegedly wrote in one anonymous email.  In another he bragged that “HBO was one of our difficult targets to deal with but we succeeded.”


After HBO refused to make a payment, Mesri allegedly posted portions of the stolen videos and five scripts from Game of Throne episodes on websites he controlled.

Mesri has not been arrested, and faces multiple charges, including wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years and one count of computer hacking, which could be punished with up to five years in prison.

More indictments expects

 The indictment is one of several cases involving Iranian suspects prosecutors plan to announce in the coming month, the Washington Post reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter. In July, the Justice Department indicted two Iranian nationals with hacking a Vermont-based software company.


“Mesri now stands charged with federal crimes, and although not arrested today, he will forever have to look over his shoulder until he is made to face justice,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon Kim.

Prosecutors allege that Mesri “had previously worked on behalf of the Iranian military to conduct computer network attacks that targeted military systems, nuclear software systems, and Israeli infrastructure.”

As a member of the Turk Black Hat, Mesri is alleged to have conducted hundreds of website defacements in the United States and elsewhere using the online pseudonym Skote Vahshat,  according to the indictment.


In a note to journalists, HBO said it had been “working with law enforcement from the early stages of the cyber incident.”


$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!