March 2, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David Byrd reporting.
The so-called "Trump bump" on Wall Street pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a record level, passing the 21,000-mark.
Peter Cardillo is the chief market economist at First Standard Financial. He says the president's speech on Tuesday combined with some good economic news led to the record close.
"We got some real good economic news today. And we've been having these strings of economic news that suggest that the economy is continuing to grow and that inflation is nearing the Fed's target, which means they are probably headed for a rate hike sometime this month."
Some investors see raising rates as a signal that the U.S. economy no longer needs the boost it gets from ultra-low interest rates.
One day after his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Donald Trump met with Republican leaders from the House and Senate Wednesday.
He laid out changes he wants to make in the U.S. health care system, but his Republican colleagues in Congress remain divided about exactly how to repeal and then replace national reforms championed by former President Barack Obama.
Mr. Trump said he wants to make sure Americans with pre-existing medical conditions can still buy insurance. But rather than force them to buy insurance or pay a penalty, Trump said a new law should send tax credits to Americans to help them buy their own insurance policies.
Republicans have long sought to rescind the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, saying its mandatory requirement to buy insurance is an intrusion on personal rights.
For more on these stories, visit our website voanews.com. This is VOA news.
Talks on Syria's future continued Wednesday, with opposition leaders meeting with Russia's deputy foreign minister.
U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura met with various opposition members late Wednesday, including the head of the delegation and chief negotiator Nasr al-Hariri.
The U.N. mediator said that their two-hour meeting was not just procedural but substantive.
"We had a very in depth discussion, I think we had an opportunity to go deeply in all the items of the agenda. And that I think as being quite useful."
The opposition says political transition, specifically the fate of President Bashar al-Assad, should be added to the discussions.
De Mistura is expected to meet again with both sides on Thursday to continue the intra-Syria negotiations.
Meanwhile, a new U.N. investigative report accuses Syria and its ally, Russia, of multiple war crimes for deliberately targeting hospitals and destroying vital civilian infrastructure.
As Lisa Schlein reports, the report covers the period between July and December when Russian and Syrian air forces relentlessly bombed eastern Aleppo.
Chairman of the independent commission Paulo Pinheiro says civilians were deliberately targeted.
"Each cluster bomb release, their use in such a densely populated area, as I said, as eastern Aleppo, amounts to the use of indiscriminate weapon constituting a war crime."
Pinheiro says the report also documents Syria's use of chlorine-filled barrel bombs on civilian inhabited areas.
Lisa Schlein, for VOA news, Geneva.
Iraqi troops were approaching Mosul's main government complex in the city's western half on Wednesday.
As they continue to battle the Islamic State group, an Iraqi commander said that his forces were advancing along the Tigris River after retaking one of the city's five damaged bridges.
The U.N. migration agency, meanwhile, reported a surge in the number of people fleeing the area, saying that more than 10,000 civilian men, women and children have been displaced since the operation to retake western Mosul began February 19.
Malaysia has charged two women with murder Wednesday in connection with the death of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Twenty-five-year-old Indonesia Siti Aisyah and 28-year-old Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam could face the death penalty if convicted.
For more on these stories, log on to our website voanews.com. I'm David Byrd in Washington.
That's the latest world news from VOA.