August 9, 2020

This is VOA news. Reporting by remote, I'm David Byrd.

President Donald Trump is bypassing the nation's elected lawmakers as he claims the authority to defer payroll taxes and extend an expired unemployment benefit.

Trump signed several executive orders at his New Jersey golf club Saturday after negotiations with Congress on a new coronavirus rescue package collapsed.

The president moved to continue paying a supplemental federal unemployment benefit for millions of Americans out of work during the outbreak. However, he reduced it from $600 a week to 400.

"... an extra $400 per week in expanded benefits - $400, OK? So that's generous. But we want to take care of our people. Again, it wasn't their fault, it was China's fault. States will be asked to cover 25 percent of the costs using existing funding ...."

Trump also extended a moratorium on evictions, deferred payroll taxes for a year and continued a suspension of student loan repayments.

It is not clear how much or what the president has signed will actually occur because the constitution gives Congress the power to allocate federal money.

Protests continued in streets of Beirut Saturday night after a day of demonstrations over Tuesday's devastating explosion that killed nearly 160 people and injured almost 6,000.

Police fired tear gas at stone-throwing protesters and some demonstrators stormed the Foreign Ministry building during Saturday's protests.

The disaster has increased public anger in a country already reeling from an economic crisis and the affects of the coronavirus pandemic.

For more on these stories and the rest of the day's news, log on to our website voanews.com. This is VOA news.

Beijing's top representative office in Hong Kong said Saturday that sanctions imposed by the United States on senior Hong Kong and Chinese officials were "clowning actions" that would not frighten or intimidate Chinese people. Reuters Olivia Chang reports.

The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Luo Huining, the head of China's Liaison Office, as well as Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam and other current and former officials. Washington accuses these officials of curtailing political freedoms in the global financial hub.

The sanctions freeze any U.S. assets of the officials, prohibit them from carrying out business in the country and generally bar Americans from doing business with them.

The move accelerates rapidly deteriorating Sino-U.S. ties more than a month after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on Hong Kong.

That's Reuters Olivia Chang.

Police say at least 18 people were killed and 123 injured when a special return flight for Indians stranded abroad because of the coronavirus skidded off a hilltop runway and cracked in two while landing Friday in heavy rain. AP's Zaria Shaklee reports.

Officials said among the injured, at least 15 were in critical condition. Both pilots of the Air India Express flight died, the airline said in a statement, adding that the four cabin crew were safe.

The airline said the 2-year-old Boeing 737-800 flew from Dubai to Kozhikode, also called Calicut, in Kerala, India's southernmost state. There were 174 adult passengers, 10 infants, two pilots and four cabin crew on board.

I'm Zaria Shaklee.

Tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts have gathered in Sturgis, South Dakota, this weekend.

As AP's Julie Walker reports, there seems to be little concern about the coronavirus outbreak among those gathered.

Biker Kevin Lunsmann rode 600 miles from Minnesota and says he is not wearing a mask and was surprised at how many showed up this year.

But the coronavirus has changed something, says Bob Graham. It's marking his 36th straight year.

Sturgis organizers say 250,000 could show up.

I'm Julie Walker.

For more on these stories and the rest of the day's news, log on to our website voanews.com. Reporting by remote, I'm David Byrd, VOA news.