August 3, 2017

From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Jonathan Smith reporting.

President Trump has signed into law a sanctions bill that he declared is "significantly flawed," with "clearly unconstitutional provisions."

The bill penalizes Russia for its interference in last year's U.S. presidential election. It also places sanctions on Iran and North Korea and it restricts the president's authority to lift the sanctions without consulting Congress.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the new law is tantamount to a "full-scale trade war," and Moscow's Foreign Ministry said there could be countermeasures against the United States.

President Trump and two Republican senators announced on Wednesday a proposed new law to reduce legal immigration.

At the White House, the president said the United States has for decades let in too many "low-skilled immigrants."

"This competitive application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy."

The president said the legislation is meant to protect "minority workers competing for jobs against brand new arrivals."

He says it will give those workers a raise by reducing the number of unskilled workers entering the United States.

The Pentagon says two American soldiers were killed when their NATO convoy was attacked in Afghanistan's troubled Kandahar province on Wednesday. A spokesman gave no details.

NATO's military mission does confirm an attack Wednesday on its convoy in southern Afghanistan did cause casualties, but it also declined to release details.

This is VOA news.

An electronic voting technology company that followed the election in Venezuela on Sunday to overhaul the country's constitution says the results were "manipulated."

The head of the company says there was a discrepancy and it told a million votes between tallies announced by the government and those counted by his company's systems.

The company would not say, however, if the tampering change(s) the outcome of the election.

Meantime, the U.N. Human Rights chief is calling for the immediate release of two prominent Venezuelan opposition leaders. Correspondent Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein says he is deeply concerned that opposition leaders Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma once again were in jail. The Venezuelan Supreme Court revoked their house arrests, claiming they were planning to flee.

The high commissioner's spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, tells VOA the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has declared the detention of both López and Ledezma to be arbitrary and says they never should have been arrested.

"It is absolutely illegal under international human rights law to arrest somebody and detain them arbitrarily."

Lisa Schlein, for VOA news, Geneva.

The United States, Britain, France and Germany have called Iran's recent rocket test "inconsistent" with a U.N. Security Council resolution. They have asked the head of the U.N. to investigate it.

The letter sent Wednesday to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and the president of the Security Council says, "This launch represents a threatening and provocative step by Iran." The letter was sent by the United States on behalf of the four powers.

Last Thursday, Iran announced that it had successfully fired a rocket carrying a satellite into space. Tehran claimed the rocket is capable of carrying a 250-kilogram satellite as far as 500 kilometers above Earth.

And new U.S. public-opinion surveys show that President Trump's approval ratings, already the lowest ever for an American president this early in his White House tenure, are continuing to fall.

Quinnipiac University said Wednesday that Americans, by a 61-to-33 percent margin, disapprove of the president's performance just six months into his four-year term at the White House. Gallup, with its three-day tracking average, said its latest surveys show Trump had a 60-to-36 negative standing.

You can find more on these and other late breaking and developing stories, from around the world, around the clock, at voanews.com. I'm Jonathan Smith reporting from Washington.

That's the latest world news from VOA.