Thursday morning news – September 3, 2020

Biden, Trump trade jabs over handling of pandemic » As campaign season kicks into high gear, Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden took aim Wednesday at President Trump’s handling of the pandemic. 

BIDEN: If President Trump and his administration had done their jobs early on with this crisis, American schools would be open and they’d be open safely. Instead, American families all across this country are paying the price for his failures. 

President Trump countered that Biden’s lockdown policies would have crippled the American economy for years to come. And he told supporters in Wilmington, North Carolina Wednesday that the economy is now on its way back. 

TRUMP: The stock market’s hitting another high. That means your stocks, your 401ks. We have to do what we’re doing. The country is coming back really strongly. 

His remarks came one day after the Trump administration issued a directive stopping residential property owners from evicting certain renters through the end of the year to prevent the spread of the virus.

The move stems from Trump’s executive order last month ordering federal health officials to consider measures to halt evictions. The CDC followed up Tuesday by declaring that any landlord shall not evict anyone for failure to pay rent if they meet certain income and hardship criteria.

Steroids confirmed to help severely ill coronavirus patients » Some good news for severely ill COVID-19 patients this week. New studies have confirmed that some cheap, widely available steroids improve survival rates for those patients.

A major medical journal published the pooled results from seven studies. The report found that steroids reduced the risk of death in the first month by about one-third in these seriously ill patients who needed extra oxygen.

For some patients, it’s not the illness itself that proves deadly, but rather their body’s overreaction to it. Steroids can help reduce inflammation and counter that risk. 

House panel flags “waste, fraud, and abuse” in small business loan program » House Democrats this week said the Paycheck Protection Program has helped millions of businesses survive the pandemic. But billions may have been sunk on “fraud, waste, and abuse.” WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The Paycheck Protection program, launched in April, was a part of the $2 trillion CARES Act. It offered more than $600 billion in small business loans that were forgivable under certain conditions. 

A House panel released a 10-page report Tuesday stating that the program suffered from—quote—“a lack of oversight and accountability” steering a large chunk of the money away from deserving businesses.

The analysis stated that the government paid out more than a billion dollars to companies that received multiple loans. And it sent about $200 million to companies that could not legally receive the loans. The panel said another $3 billion in loans were flagged for other concerns. 

But the report says the program largely achieved its goal of keeping many employers afloat during lockdowns, approving more than 5 million loans in total.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Pentagon: China likely plans to double nuclear stockpile » The Pentagon is warning that China likely plans to double its stockpile of nuclear warheads in this decade. 

That from the Defense Department’s annual report to Congress on China’s military power.

Even with those increases, China’s nuclear force would be far smaller than that of the United States. And unlike the United States, China has no nuclear air force. But the report said Beijing might close that gap by developing a nuclear air-launched ballistic missile.

The Trump administration has urged China to join the United States and Russia in negotiating a three-way deal to limit nuclear arms, but China has declined. 

The Pentagon said the nuclear buildup is part of a bigger strategy. Beijing aims to match or surpass America as the dominant power in the Asia-Pacific region by 2049. 

And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that China is already throwing its weight around, increasingly “bullying its neighbors.” 

POMPEO: That bullying is also evident in the South China Sea. Last week, the United States imposed sanctions and visa restrictions on Chinese individuals and entities responsible for the Chinese CCP’s imperialism there. 

China is also locked in a tense border dispute with India over territory in the Himalayas. 

Germany says Soviet-era nerve agent used on Russia’s Navalny » The German government said Wednesday that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent—the same substance used in an attack on a former Russian spy in England two years ago.  

The German government said testing by a German military laboratory proves the poison was a Novichok chemical nerve agent.

Navalny remains in serious condition in a Berlin hospital. 

Saudis to allow flights to and from U.A.E “from all countries” including Israel » Saudi Arabia made an announcement Wednesday that some believe could be a precursor to normalized relations with Israel. WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg has that story. 

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: The Saudi government said Wednesday that flights to and from the United Arab Emirates “from all countries” will now be allowed to fly through Saudi airspace. 

Earlier this week the kingdom—for the first time—allowed an Israeli commercial jetliner to fly over Saudi Arabia en route to Abu Dhabi.

That followed a historic deal between Israel and the U.A.E. establishing formal diplomatic ties. 

Some analysts have speculated that Saudi Arabia may be the next Arab nation to exchange ambassadors with the world’s only Jewish state. 

But Wednesday’s announcement didn’t mention Israel by name. And the Saudi foreign minister on Twitter reaffirmed that the kingdom’s—quote—“firm and established position toward the Palestinian cause and people will not change.” 

Some Arab leaders consider normalized relations with Israel an affront to Palestinians. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) In this Aug. 27, 2020, file photo President Donald Trump speaks from the South Lawn of the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention in Washington. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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