August 4, 2016
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David DeForest reporting. A controversy has erupted over payments to Iran and the release of U.S. hostages.
On the same day in January that Iran released four American hostages, the United States airlifted $400 million in foreign currencies to that country.
The U.S. government says the money was sent to settle a decades-old deputes over a canceled arms agreement and denies suggestions that the exchange amounted to a ransom payment.
Here is White House spokesman Josh Earnest: "... that's something we told the Iranians we would not do. We would not, we have not, we will not pay a ransom to secure the release of U.S. citizens. That's a fact. That is our policy and it is one that we have assiduously followed." :Josh Earnest.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has declined to support the reelection campaign of House Speaker Paul Ryan, but Trump's running mate Mike Pence Wednesday enthusiastically endorsed Ryan.
Trump has angered his party's leadership by refusing to endorse Ryan or Senator John McCain in their primary election campaigns even though both of those men have extended their support to Trump.
Pence told Fox news that Trump strongly encouraged him to endorse Ryan, but American media are calling the endorsement an unusual split between candidates at the top of a party ticket.
The Olympic Torch arrived by boat in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday. The torch was sent on a 90-day relay around the country ahead of the Olympic games beginning Friday.
The torch will travel through Rio before arriving at the Maracana Stadium at the beginning of the 2016 Olympic games.
For more on the Olympics and other news, take a look at our website. It's voanews.com. This is VOA news.
South Africans voted Wednesday in local elections. The results of the vote expected within a week could shake up the ruling African National Congress party. The ANC has dominated national politics since 1994.
But the party's reputation has been tarnished somewhat by corruption scandals, unemployment in the country and lingering economic inequality.
An Emirates Airlines flight from India caught on fire Wednesday after a crash landing at Dubai's international airport.
There were no fatalities and all 300 passengers and the crew were safely evacuated from the plane before it became engulfed in flames.
An Indian government official in Dubai says the passengers are fine except for some foot injuries.
Passengers on board the plane described hearing a loud noise after a hard landing.
Emirates says it does not know what caused the accident.
Australia has been accused of condoning the abuse of refugees who have been deported to asylum processing centers on the Pacific island of Nauru. Henry Ridgwell has more.
In a joint investigation, Amnesty and Human Rights Watch described the conditions for refugees on Nauru as inhuman and accused the Australian government of deliberately inflicting suffering on people seeking safety and freedom, seemingly designed to put off other refugees from trying to reach Australia by boat.
The government says it was not told of the allegations made by Amnesty and Human Rights Watch or shown any evidence before the report was published.
Henry Ridgwell, London.
A Washington, D.C. transit policeman has been arrested on charges of attempting to provide support for the Islamic State group. It's the first time terrorism charges have been filed against a U.S. law enforcement officer.
U.S. President Barack Obama has shortened the sentences of 214 inmates from U.S. federal prisons. The White House is calling the action the largest batch of commutations on a single day in more than a century.
A private U.S. company has been given the green light for a commercial flight to the moon.
The first-of-its-kind announcement came Wednesday that Moon Express, Inc. will send a robotic lander to the moon.
Thirty-three members of the U.S. military have contracted the Zika virus overseas, including one pregnant woman.
Pentagon officials say all of those infected were stationed in countries where the virus has been identified.
In addition, six family members have been infected.
The U.S. government, meanwhile, is saying the first clinical trial of an experimental Zika vaccine has begun.
From the VOA news center in Washington, I'm David DeForest.
That's the latest world news from VOA.