World News

    Burmese President's White House Visit a Reward for Reforms

    Burmese President Thein Sein is visiting the White House, becoming the first leader of his nation to do so in nearly half a century. It marks the latest U.S. effort to reward him for introducing reforms after decades of military rule.

    The White House meeting with President Barack Obama also represents a rapid diplomatic boost for Thein Sein, whom the United States removed from a blacklist of foreign officials denied entry to the country only last year. Mr. Obama previously recognized Burma's reform efforts by making the first visit to that nation by a sitting U.S. president last November.

    The White House says Mr. Obama is committed to supporting countries such as Burma that make a decision to "embrace reform."

    But, rights groups accuse Mr. Obama of sending the wrong message to Burma. They say Mr. Thein Sein's White House invitation reduces pressure on him to release political dissidents and stop alleged rights abuses against Burma's ethnic minorities.

    Some U.S. lawmakers also have said they will try to slow the process of lifting U.S. sanctions on Burma to keep the pressure on Mr. Thein Sein to address those concerns.



    Some analysts say the Obama administration wants to help Mr. Thein Sein to overcome resistance within the Burmese military toward further democratic change. They say the U.S. embrace of Burma also is part of a strategy to boost ties with Southeast Asian nations as a counterweight to China's growing regional power.

    The White House said Mr. Obama and Mr. Thein Sein planned to discuss "many remaining challenges to (Burmese) efforts to develop democracy, address communal and ethnic tensions, and bring economic opportunity" to the Burmese people.

    President Thein Sein addressed some of those issues at a town hall meeting at the Voice of America on Sunday.

    He said ethnic violence against minority Muslims in western Burma is criminal behavior, not civil strife. He also acknowledged what he called "heavy-handed" actions by some police in their efforts to control political dissent in his country. But, he said both protesters and police must understand their responsibilities as democracy takes hold.

    Mr. Thein Sein told a group of about 30 Burmese living in the United States that the development of democracy in their homeland must go hand in hand with economic development, which he said must be a priority.

    U.S.-based group Physicians for Human Rights released a report Monday, accusing Burmese authorities of standing by while militants attacked an Islamic boarding school in the central town of Meiktila in March. It said the assailants killed at least 20 children and four teachers.

    The report's lead author Richard Sollom said President Obama should use Monday's meeting to "persuade Burma's leader that the only path from tyranny to democracy is through the promotion and respect of human rights." Sollom also called on President Thein Sein to support an independent investigation into the Meiktila killings and to "bring perpetrators to justice and speak out forcefully against ongoing anti-Muslim violence."

    Burmese authorities have repeatedly disputed accusations by rights groups that security forces ignore or participate in the violence.

    Washington has been re-engaging the Burmese government since a long-ruling military junta stepped aside in late 2010 and permitted democratic elections the following year.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.