December 15, 2016
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David DeForest reporting.
U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein says he is "appalled" by the apparent collapse of a cease-fire agreement in Aleppo.
Zeid said the resumption of bombing by the Syrian government and their allies on the area packed with civilians is almost certainly a violation of international law and most likely constitutes a war crime.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest expressed U.S. concern. "It's heartbreaking. It's tragic, when you see a government commit atrocities against its own people using the military might of the state. That is a failed government."
Elsewhere in Syria, a U.S. general says Islamic State militants captured heavy weapons possibly including air defense equipment when they retook the Syrian town of Palmyra.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he personally killed suspected drug traffickers during his two-decade tenure as mayor of the city of Davao.
Duterte made the admission Monday during a speech before a group of businessmen, boasting that he would ride around the city on his motorcycle looking for a confrontation so he could kill.
"... but in Davao, I used to do it personally just to show to the guys that if I can do it, why can't you?"
Duterte's admission came amid defense of his crackdown on suspected drug dealers since taking office in June.
The Chinese military has apparently erected anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems on artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea.
A U.S. research organization says the systems are a prelude to deploying combat aircraft to disputed territory, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative Director Gregory Poling talked to VOA.
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Donald Trump met Wednesday with leaders of some Silicon Valley companies, [trying to fend off] trying to mend fences with corporate leaders who mostly supported Trump's opponent in the presidential election.
"I want to add that I'm here to help you folks do well. And you're doing well right now, and I'm very honored by the 'bounce.' They're all talking about the bounce, so right now everybody in this room has to like me at least a little bit."
He was referring to the financial bounce in the stock markets since his election.
Trump spoke with the chief executives of tech companies such as Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Alphabet and Intel.
A new Gallup poll shows Americans are evenly split on the Donald Trump handling of his transition to the U.S. Forty-eight percent approve and 48 percent disapprove, a lower rating than Trump's three predecessors.
His low ratings are largely due to opposition from Democrats, only 17 percent of them approve of Trump's handling of the transition.
U.S. central bank officials raised the key U.S. interest rate slightly Wednesday and said further increases will come at a "gradual" pace.
Janet Yellen leads the Fed. "The committee judged that a modest increase to the federal funds rate is appropriate in light of the solid progress we have seen toward our goals of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation."
A quarter of a percentage point increase is still low by historic standards. It is the first rate increase in a year.
During the recession, the U.S. Fed slashed the rates nearly to zero to boost economic growth.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been named the world's most powerful man for 2016 by Forbes magazine, the fourth straight year he has gained that position.
The magazine issued its yearly list Wednesday.
Forbes rated U.S. President-elect Donald Trump as the second most powerful. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was listed as third. China's Xi Jinping took fourth and Pope Francis was fifth.
Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama dropped from number two last year to 48 this year.
United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has condemned the takeover of Gambia's electoral commission offices by security forces and called on them to vacate the building immediately.
A statement Wednesday from the secretary-general's spokesman also asked the Gambian military to take no further actions that could jeopardize a peaceful transfer of power in the West African nation.
Two-thirds of health facilities in Nigeria's Borno state - the center of the Boko Haram insurgency - have either been destroyed or ceased to function.
That was the conclusion of a new report issued Wednesday by the World Health Organization. It says at least 35 percent of medical facilities in the state are completely destroyed.
From the VOA news center in Washington, I'm David DeForest.
That's the latest world news from VOA.