March 12, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David Byrd reporting.
At least 46 people, most of them Iraqi pilgrims, were killed on Saturday in twin bombings that targeted a religious shrine in Damascus. More than 120 other people were wounded in the Syrian capital.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But Islamic State militants and other Sunni extremists have carried out similar attacks in the past against Shiite shrines in Syria and neighboring Iraq, including a double bombing last June that killed 12 people at a shrine in a Damascus suburb.
Syrian authorities and monitors cited conflicting reports about the cause of the explosions. State television said bombs had been planted in the Syrian capital's Bab al-Saghir cemetery, which includes a shrine where Shiites venerate some of the early figures of their faith. The Shiite militant group Hezbollah, however, said suicide bombers had carried explosives to the shrine, which marks one of the seven gates to the Old City of Damascus.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party won a landslide victory in the politically crucial northern state of Uttar Pradesh, giving the Indian leader a huge boost half way through his term.
The country's most populous state, where the BJP swept away the ruling regional Samajwadi Party, was the biggest electoral prize of the five states which went to the polls in recent weeks.
Modi personally led his party's campaign in Uttar Pradesh, promising growth and defending his controversial ban on high value currency notes, which many had feared would alienate poor voters in an impoverished state.
This is VOA news.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has appealed to voters in Kentucky to support a battle in Congress to replace the nation's health care law with a bill being pushed by Republican Party leaders.
Pence called on voters to support the American health care act, saying that former President Obama's health care plan had failed to live up to its promises.
"They told us the cost of health insurance would go down. Not true. They told us if you like your doctors, you can keep them. Not true. They told us if you like your health plan, you can keep it. Not true."
President Donald Trump, his running mate and Republican Party leaders are facing opposition from both sides of the political spectrum as they try to promote their health care plan. Some Republican conservatives say that [does], that is, it is too close to Obamacare, while Democrats say that it will harm the poor.
An intruder with a backpack who scaled the outer perimeter fence around the White House was arrested shortly before midnight Friday.
Uniformed U.S. Secret Service took 26-year-old Jonathan Tran of Milpitas, California, into custody without incident.
White House officials said President Donald Trump was in the mansion at the time but was never in any danger. Later, the president thanked the Secret Service, saying that they did "a fantastic job."
The president called Tran "a troubled person."
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was barred from landing in the Netherlands Saturday as opposition grows to Turkish campaigning throughout the European Union.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan condemned the action strongly, calling his NATO partner a "Nazi remnant" - the second comparison he has made between a European nation and the Nazis this week.
He said, "They do not know politics or international diplomacy. They are shaky and cowardly, these Nazi remnants. They are fascists. You should know this."
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Saturday afternoon that his country's problem was that it was a Turkish minister who would be campaigning in the Netherlands among Dutch people ahead of Turkey's referendum next month.
"... difficult to come to an agreement with the Turks. In addition, this morning on television he made clear that he threatened the Netherlands with sanctions. Off course we can never negotiate with the Turks under such threats."
Many European countries object to visits by Turkish ministers campaigning ahead of a referendum to change Turkey's constitution.
I'm David Byrd in Washington.
That's the latest world news from VOA.