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News Wrap: Mass protests in Poland against restrictive abortion ruling

In our news wrap Wednesday, demonstrators in Poland gathered for a seventh straight day over a court ruling that banned abortions of fetuses, even ones with severe abnormalities. The nationwide strike is a rare show of opposition in a country long influenced by the Roman Catholic Church. Also, officials in France and Germany announced new restrictions in response to rising coronavirus infections.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: A new wave of COVID-19 infections and lockdowns sent stocks and oil prices into a meltdown just days before the election. Major indexes were down some 3.5 or more. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 943 points. That's the most since June, to close below 26520. The Nasdaq fell 426 points, and the S&P 500 slid 119.

    The move to new lockdowns intensified across Europe today, after a record two million infections worldwide in the last week. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a partial closure of bars, theaters and restaurants.

    In France, President Emmanuel Macron announced nationwide restrictions, with some exceptions.

  • Emmanuel Macron (through translator):

    Wherever possible, working from home should again be the norm. but economic activity will continue with more intensity. Public services will stay open. Factories and construction work will continue. The economy should not stop.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The United States reported more than 500,000 cases over the past week, with increases in 48 states.

    Today, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Admiral Brett Giroir, said that it is not just due to more testing, as President Trump has repeatedly claimed.

  • Brett Giroir:

    We do believe and the data show that the cases are going up. It's not just a function of testing. Yes, we're getting more cases identified, but the cases are actually going up. And we know that, too, because hospitalizations are going up.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Separately, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said today that COVID vaccines will not be available in the U.S. until January, at the earliest.

    Hurricane Zeta has crashed ashore in Southeastern Louisiana tonight, with winds of 110 miles an hour. The storm strengthened to almost Category 3 as it raced toward New Orleans. But its speedy passage could limit the damage. Storm and flood warnings reach as far as Atlanta and the North Georgia Mountains.

    The city of Philadelphia has imposed an overnight curfew after two nights of protests and violence over the police killing of a Black man on Monday. About 500 people marched in West Philadelphia last night, and some clashed with police.

    On the city's other side, looters broke into businesses. This morning, stores lay in ruins, leaving some people irate.

  • Eugena Brooks:

    It makes me feel mad. It makes me feel upset, because why tear up your neighborhood? This is your community. This is, you know, people's community.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The family of the slain man, Walter Wallace, has appealed for calm.

    In Poland, demonstrators massed for a seventh straight day against a court ruling that banned abortions of fetuses with even severe abnormalities. Crowds turned out in Warsaw and other major cities. The nationwide strike is a rare show of opposition in a country that's long been influenced by the Roman Catholic Church.

    Back in this country, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to rule before the election on counting absentee ballots in Pennsylvania. Republicans had challenged a state court ruling that ballots received within three days of Election Day must be counted.

    New Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not take part in today's vote. The court said the reason was that she had not had time to read into the case.

    Winds were calmer today in Southern California, giving firefighters a chance to gain ground. Two big windblown wildfires had left nearly 100,000 people under evacuation orders this week. Some of the orders have now been lifted.

    The Trump administration has formally announced plans to lift restrictions on logging and road-building across the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. It affects more than nine million acres that have been protected since 2001. Alaskan elected officials have pushed for the change. Conservation groups vow to fight it.

    And the Los Angeles Dodgers are baseball's world champions again, their first title in 32 years. They clinched the World Series last night, beating Tampa Bay in game six. It was played in a sequestered bubble in Arlington, Texas, after a season truncated by COVID.

    Congratulations to the Dodgers.

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