January 4, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David DeForest reporting.
Republican-led U.S. Congress began its 115th session Tuesday with a swearing-in of members and the re-election of Paul Ryan as speaker.
Speaker Ryan had this comment: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is the kind of thing that most of us only dreamed about. I know because I used to dream about it a lot. The people have given us unified government. And it wasn't because they were feeling generous. It's because they want results."
House Republican lawmakers dropped plans to take control of the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, a move that could have limited the group's ability to investigate wayward lawmakers. President-elect Donald Trump said the lawmakers should focus on tax reform, health care and more important things.
Syrian government forces have escalated their attacks near the capital, Damascus. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the army is trying to capture the water-rich areas around the village of Wadi Barada and Barada Valley.
The government says rebels have damaged key water infrastructure, causing water supplies to be cut.
Meanwhile, a coalition of rebel groups says they will suspend their participation in preliminary peace talks set for later this month in Kazakhstan. The rebels say they are withdrawing due to what they say is the Syrian government's violation of the current cease-fire.
Turkish media have broadcast a video of a man they say is the suspected gunman who killed 39 people during a New Year's attack on an Istanbul nightclub.
The video appears to be from a cell phone. The man spends much of his time looking at the camera but does not speak.
It is unclear when the video was recorded.
This is VOA news.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday criticized General Motors, the country's biggest automaker, for sending its Mexican-made Chevrolet Cruze cars to the U.S. tax free. Trump threatened to impose a hefty tariff on the company.
GM said it already makes the majority of its Cruze models in the United States.
Meanwhile, the Ford motor company Tuesday scrapped plans to build a new factory in Mexico. The company says it will, instead, expand a plant in Michigan to build electric and self-driving cars.
The White House says U.S. President Barack Obama plans to transfer abroad more suspected terrorists held at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
President-elect Donald Trump has called for an end to such releases. Trump said Tuesday that the prisoners in Cuba are "extremely dangerous and should not be allowed back onto the battle field."
An Indian minister has received widespread criticism for suggesting that "western clothes" were responsible for a series of sexual assaults in the city of Bangalore on New Year's Eve.
Karnataka's Home Minister G Parameshwara made the remark to The Times Now television network.
And Abu Azmi, leader of the Indian regional Samajwadi Party, echoed those comments Tuesday, blaming women's "short dresses" for the incidents and calling western influence a "blot on the Indian culture."
Lalitha Kumaramangalam, head of the Indian National Commission for women, called on Parameshwara to resign over the comments.
Local media reports say hundreds of women fled the streets and hid behind police officers as a mob descended on them on New Year's Eve.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that a planned Middle East conference in Paris is "futile." Seventy countries are expected to participate in the event, but Israel will not.
Mr. Netanyahu worries that the meeting will result in new United Nations resolutions against Israel.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday that the U.S. has no indication that North Korea has bolstered its nuclear capabilities.
At the Pentagon, spokesman John Kirby says officials are keeping an eye on the situation.
"We do continue to believe that he continues to pursue both nuclear and ballistic missile technologies. I mean that's, that's pretty apparent," speaking of Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who announced his country was close to test-launching an intercontinental ballistic missile.
From the VOA news center in Washington, I'm David DeForest.
That's the latest world news from VOA.