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News Wrap: Russia approves vaccine for COVID-19

In our news wrap Tuesday, Russia became the first country to approve a vaccine for COVID-19. But with only two months of human testing and no large-scale trials yet, global health experts sounded alarms in response. Also, hundreds of thousands of people across the Midwest are still without electricity, after a powerful storm ravaged the region. Winds reached 100 miles per hour in some areas.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: Worldwide COVID-19 infections have topped 20 million, after cases doubled over the past 45 days.

    Meanwhile, Russia claimed victory today in becoming the first country to approve a vaccine. But with only two months of human testing and no large-scale trials yet, global health experts sounded alarms. Still, President Vladimir Putin insisted it was safe for use.

  • Vladimir Putin (through translator):

    I know it has proven efficient and forms a stable immunity, and I would like to repeat that it has passed all the necessary tests. One of my daughters has been vaccinated. In this sense, she has taken part in the experiment. She's feeling well and has high number of antibodies.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Meanwhile, the U.S. recorded fewer than 50,000 new cases for the second day in a row.

    Two major athletic conferences have announced that they are pulling the plug on football and other fall sports amid the pandemic. The Big Ten and the Pac-12 said that they will postpone at least some of those sports until the spring to avoid potential health risks to student athletes.

    The decision takes two of college football's five power conferences out of an already uncertain season.

    Hundreds of thousands of people across the Midwest are still without electricity today, after a powerful storm ravaged the region. Winds of 100 miles an hour downed trees from Nebraska to Indiana yesterday.

    In Iowa, the governor said at least 10 million acres of crops were damaged.

  • Gov. Kim Reynolds, R-Iowa:

    It will be a number of days before we know the full impact of yesterday's storms, but one thing is for certain. Many of our neighbors have had their lives drastically impacted, whether it's through injury or damage to their livelihoods.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The windstorm is responsible for at least two deaths, one in Indiana and another in Iowa.

    In Belarus, more than 2,000 people have been detained in violent anti-government protests over Sunday's disputed election. Amid the crackdown, the top opposition candidate said today that she had fled the country, and she urged her supporters to stop the unrest.

    Nick Schifrin has our story.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    On the streets of the capital, Minsk, a national uprising, after what demonstrators call a stolen election. In response, authorities arrested thousands and shot this protester in the back.

  • Man (through translator):

    How much longer will we tolerate this mess? I just don't understand at all.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    President Alexander Lukashenko says he won more than 80 percent of Sunday's vote. No international monitor agrees.

    But, overnight, opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya fled to Lithuania and, from the election commission's offices, recorded this video.

  • Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (through translator):

    I ask you not to confront the police, not to go to the square.

  • Joerg Forbrig:

    Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya did not leave by her own free will. She was forced to leave.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Joerg Forbrig is the German Marshall Fund's director for Central and Eastern Europe. He says the protests will continue, even without an opposition leader, because they're born of Lukashenko's authoritarianism, years of stifling dissent, arbitrary arrests, and manipulated elections.

  • Joerg Forbrig:

    Belarusians by now are going — are taking to the streets, not because they are following Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. They're defending their rights to determine the leadership of the country, which was taken away from them, clearly, on Sunday.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Today, the European Union blamed Lukashenko's government for the unrest.

  • Peter Stano:

    The incredible harassment and repression against the candidates, the brutal violence is unacceptable.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Tsikhanouskaya's forced departure led to a second, emotionally raw video.

  • Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (through translator):

    I thought this whole campaign toughened me a lot and gave me so much strength that I can endure anything. But perhaps I am still a weak woman. Please, please be careful. No life is a worthwhile price for what is happening now.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Lukashenko seems to be willing to exact any price, and accused protesters of violence.

  • Alexander Lukashenko (through translator):

    The police were deliberately hit, so they responded. Why are you crying now? The response will be adequate. We will not allow you to tear the country apart.

  • Joerg Forbrig:

    If protests continue, if there's even more strikes on companies than we have seen already today, then basically the last resort for Alexander Lukashenko is some form of state of emergency or even martial law.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Lukashenko is now fighting for his survival. There's no telling how far he's willing to go.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Nick Schifrin.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The State Department's internal watchdog has determined that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acted legally in bypassing Congress to approve massive arms sales to Arab nations.

    Pompeo declared an emergency last year to push some $8 billion to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan, citing threats from Iran. The findings come after former Inspector General Steve Linick testified that State Department officials pressured him to drop the investigation. President Trump fired Linick in May.

    Seattle's police chief is retiring. Carmen Best made the announcement last night, after the City Council agreed to slash the police force budget and eliminate about 100 jobs. The cuts were largely supported by anti-racism demonstrators in Seattle.

    Today, the city's first black police chief said that the council's actions undermined progress made at the department

  • Carmen Best:

    It really is about the overarching lack of respect for the officers, the men and women who work so hard day and day out.

    And, honestly, the idea of letting — after we have worked so incredibly hard to make sure our department was diverse, that reflects the community that we serve, to just turn that all on a dime and hack it off without having a plan in place to move forward is highly distressful for me.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Chief Best's retirement will go into effect next month.

    A federal appeals court in Washington today seemed inclined to block former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's effort to immediately dismiss the criminal case against him. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the special counsel's Russia investigation.

    The Justice Department requested the case be dismissed, after determining the FBI did not have a valid reason to question him in the first place.

    Primary and runoff elections were held today in five states, Minnesota, Connecticut, Vermont, Wisconsin and Georgia. Minnesota progressive Democrat Ilhan Omar is fighting for the first time to keep her congressional seat, while, in Georgia, one Republican runoff pits far-right QAnon conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene against neurosurgeon John Cowan.

    And stocks tumbled on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 104 points to close at 27687. The Nasdaq fell 185 points, and the S&P 500 slipped 27.

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