VOA NEWS

May 13, 2017

From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David Byrd reporting.



The White House declined on Friday to say whether President Donald Trump is recording conversations in the Oval Office or with dinner guests in the executive mansion.

Trump escalated his feud on Friday morning with former FBI chief James Comey by saying, "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"

At the midday briefing Friday, Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, denied there were any recording devices in the Oval Office or the residence.

"And I've talked to the president. The president has nothing further to add on that." "Why did he say that? Why would he tweet that? What should we interpret from that?" "As I mentioned, the president has nothing further to add on that." "Are there recording devices in the Oval Office or in the residence?" "As I've said for the third time, there is nothing further to add on that."

Trump suddenly fired Comey earlier this week.

The FBI is investigating Russian meddling in last year's election and possible collusion with Trump's campaign and aides. The president has dismissed those allegations as a hoax.



U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has directed federal prosecutors to seek the most serious charges against possible suspected offenders, a reversal of President Barack Obama's policies.

"I have empowered our prosecutors to charge and pursue the most serious offense, as I believe the law requires, most serious, readily provable offense."

The directive abolishes guidance by former Attorney General Eric Holder, who said prosecutors could in some cases omit drug quantities from charging documents so as to not generate long sentences and thereby to reduce prison overcrowding.



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A massive cyberattack hit hospitals in Britain and businesses worldwide appears to be spreading to other organizations as well.

A large number of hospitals across Britain were hit by the attack Friday, shutting down their computer systems and forcing the cancellation of patient appointments.

Britain's National Health Service said hospital computers were infected with a type of "ransomware."

British Prime Minister Theresa May told Sky news that British authorities are working with the Health Service to correct the problem.

"The National Cyber Security Centre is working closely with NHS digital to ensure that they support the organizations concerned and that they protect patient safety."

Around 1,000 computers at the Russian Interior Ministry were also affected by the cyberattack.

Some of the commercial entities affected include FedEx corporation, Portugal Telecom and Telefonica Argentina.

Similar incidents have been reported in Italy, Russia, the United States and China.



The U.N. refugee agency opened its 12th camp in northern Iraq to shelter an increasing number of Iraqi families fleeing the fighting in western Mosul.

Speaking in Geneva on Friday, UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic said that the first buses brought new arrivals to the camp on Tuesday.

"We reiterated in that regard our call to all parties in the fighting to ensure civilians are not prevented from leaving the areas of active conflict and are provided with access to safe areas, including those currently trapped in Mosul. Equally, civilians must not be forced back to return to unsafe areas."

The camp is about 60 kilometers west of Mosul along the highway to Irbil and has the capacity to accommodate more than 9,000 people when fully occupied.



A person has tested positive for the Ebola virus in the northern Democratic Republic of Congo.

A spokesman for the World Health Organization says officials declared an Ebola outbreak in Bas-Uele province after laboratory tests confirmed the presence of the virus.

The spokesman, Christian Lindmeier, told VOA's English to Africa service that nine people in the area fell sick with what is currently listed as hemorrhagic fever. He said that three people have died.

The WHO said on its Twitter feed it is working with Congo's Ministry of Health to contain the outbreak.



A mixed day on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones Industrials and the S&P 500 lower, but the NASDAQ closing higher. European markets finished trading on Friday in positive territory. Asian markets closed mixed.



For more on these stories, visit our website voanews.com. I'm David Byrd in Washington.

That's the latest world news from VOA.