In our news wrap Wednesday, as the world nears 200 million COVID cases, the World Health Organization calls for delaying booster shots until more countries get the vaccine, and the White House argues the U.S. has enough vaccine to do both if needed. Protests erupt in Lebanon a year after a deadly Beirut explosion. And California’s largest wildfire is growing again as hot, gusty weather returns.
Correction: We reported in the Aug. 4 news summary that the U.S. had 615,000 COVID cases. In fact, the U.S. has recorded 615,000 deaths and cases top 35 million. We regret the error
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The world has reached another sobering new COVID-19 milestone tonight, 200 million infections and counting. That includes some 615,000 in the United States.
A few countries are already to offer booster vaccinations, as the aggressive Delta variant spreads. But, today, the World Health Organization called for delaying boosters for two months, until more countries can get vaccine.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General:
High-income countries have now administered almost 100 doses for every 100 people. Meanwhile, low-income countries have only been able to administer 1.5 doses for every 100 people due to lack of supply.
In Washington, the White House argued that the U.S. has enough vaccine for boosters, if needed, and for shipment to other countries.
Also today, Illinois became the latest to mandate face masks for public school students this fall.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo faced even more pressure today to resign over sexual harassment allegations. The Associated Press reported that a majority of state assembly members support impeachment proceedings if he does not step down. The three-term Democrat denies state investigation findings that he harassed at least 11 women.
Mexico is suing big-name American gun makers and distributors. The suit was filed today in federal court in Boston. It charges the companies' business practices have fueled gun trafficking and bloodshed in Mexico. The Mexican government is seeking $10 billion in damages.
In Lebanon, violent protests erupted on the first anniversary of a deadly explosion at the Port of Beirut. As night came on, demonstrators fought with police, who used tear gas and water cannon outside the Parliament building.
Earlier, crowds denounced corruption and the failure to hold senior officials accountable for the explosion.
Jinane Francis, Protester (through translator):
It is a painful memory. We remember our victims. They called them martyrs, but, in fact, they are victims, victims of their corruption, victims of the authorities' negligence and victims of their deals. They do not deserve to be in power.
The Beirut explosion killed at least 214 people and wounded thousands. We will return to this later in the program.
The British Navy reports that hijackers who briefly captured a tanker outside the Persian Gulf have now left it. They seized the vessel yesterday off Fujairah, a major port in the United Arab Emirates. Radio transmissions indicated that the gunmen were Iranians. There's been no explanation of why they seized the ship.
The European Union promised aid today to Greece and neighboring nations facing a wave of wildfires. One major fire charred scores of homes, businesses and cars just north of Athens on Tuesday. Thousands of people fled, but some stayed behind and told harrowing stories today.
Panagiotis, Wildfire Victim (through translator):
There were explosions all around, bam, boom. The utility poles were falling. There were explosions inside homes and cars. It was like we were in Hiroshima or something. Something like this has never happened here.
In neighboring Turkey, another fire reached an electric power plant, forcing evacuations.
Back in this country, California's largest wildfire is growing again as hot, gusty weather returns. Flames and smoke from the Dixie Fire painted skies a glowing orange on Tuesday. The fire jumped containment lines, prompting evacuation orders to another 15,000 people.
A Trump-backed Republican and an establishment Democrat have each claimed their party's nominations in Ohio for open seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Democrat Shontel Brown won Tuesday's primary in a Cleveland district over a progressive rival. She is favored in November's special election. And Mike Carey won the GOP primary in a Columbus district with former President Trump's support. He faces a Democratic opponent this fall.
On Wall Street, stocks mostly slumped on news that private sector employment was weaker than expected last month. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 323 points, nearly 1 percent, to close at 34792. The Nasdaq rose 19 points, but the S&P 500 slipped 20.
And at the Summer Olympics, daily COVID-19 cases in Tokyo reached a new peak at more than 4, 100, with four days remaining in the Games.
In the competition, American Sydney McLaughlin broke her own world record and won the gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles.