World News


U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and other House Republicans are demanding Democrats sit down and negotiate a solution to a government shutdown, now in its fourth day.

"This isn't some damn game. The American people don't want their government shut down and neither do I. All we're asking for want is to sit down and have a discussion and to bring fairness. Reopen the government and bring fairness to the American people under Obamacare."

The government closed Tuesday after the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate could not agree on a budget. The Republicans' desire to change U.S. President Barack Obama's signature health care law has stalled a short-term, normally routine, spending bill.

The shutdown has furloughed more than 800,000 federal workers, about one third of the federal work force. People classified as essential employees, such as air traffic controllers, Border Patrol agents and many food inspectors, continue to work, as do U.S. broadcasting services, including VOA.

President Obama canceled an upcoming trip to Asia because of the partial U.S. government shutdown.

The White House announced late Thursday the president decided to cancel visits to Indonesia and Brunei in the face of the shutdown and his intent to continue pressuring Republicans to allow a vote on a spending plan that does not include changes to the health care program.

"There will be no negotiations over this. The American people are not pawns in some political game. You do not get to demand some ransom in exchange for keeping the government running. You do not get to demand ransom in exchange for keeping the economy running. You don't get to demand ransom for doing your most basic job."

The White House says Secretary of State John Kerry will lead U.S. delegations to Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines. Kerry will attend the APEC summit in Bali in place of the president.

Earlier Thursday, President Obama said a simple bill to fund the government with no other issues attached -- including his signature health care plan, nicknamed "Obamacare" -- would pass the House of Representatives. Mr. Obama accused Republican House Speaker John Boehner of catering to a small group of what he called conservative, Republican extremists who want to defund or delay the health care plan.

But House Republicans, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, blame the president and Democrats for refusing to negotiate or pass any bills to reopen parts of the government while the two sides work out their differences.

"Now the president continues to refuse to sit down with us Republicans, and sadly, that is a hallmark of his presidency."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told CNN television Thursday that it was House Speaker Boehner who reneged on a promise to allow a vote on a clean funding bill, even after Democrats agreed to accept Republican spending levels.

With the shutdown prompting Mr. Obama to cancel his Asia trip, he will be missing the second APEC summit in a row. VOA White House correspondent Dan Robinson reports this might raise doubts about the U.S. commitment to the Asia Pacific region.

"As you know, President Obama was not able to go to the APEC summit in Vladivostock last year because of the U.S. presidential election campaign. This is bound to raise further questions in Asia among those who are questioning U.S. commitment not only to the strategic pivot but to the whole regional focus or rebalancing of U.S. economic interests in the region."

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs