Wednesday morning news – September 9, 2020

Vaccine makers sign pledge not to rush a vaccine too quickly » The leaders of nine pharmaceutical companies racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine have signed an unprecedented pledge to help reassure the American public. 

The companies vowed Tuesday that they will not submit a vaccine for FDA approval before it’s proven to be safe and effective. 

The pledge came as Democrats have voiced concern that the Trump administration might try to rush the process to approve a vaccine before Election Day. 

BIDEN: If a president announced tomorrow that we have a vaccine, would you take it? Only if it was completely transparent and other experts in the country could look at it. Only if we knew all of what went into it, because so far nothing that he’s told us has been true.  

Presidential nominee Joe Biden heard there during a virtual campaign event Monday. 

The Trump administration fired back, accusing Biden and Democrats of recklessly sowing public fear of a coronavirus vaccine. 

And Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that the FDA has already published guidance for exactly what it will require for vaccine approval.

AZAR: We will be transparent with the data. We will have a public advisory process for that. We will not compromise on the safety and efficacy of a vaccine even as we move under President Trump’s leadership to get one as quickly as possible. 

He also said the administration welcomes the drug companies’ decision to sign Tuesday’s pledge. 

The nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that he’s cautiously optimistic, based on data he’s seen that we’ll have a vaccine by the end of year. But he said it’s unlikely to happen before the November 3rd election. 

Entire command staff of Rochester P.D. retires amid protests » Rochester, New York Mayor Lovely Warren announced Tuesday that amid nightly police protests, top police leaders are leaving the department. 

WARREN: I do want to inform you that the entire Rochester Police Department command staff has announced their retirement. That includes the police chief. 

Protests began in Rochester over the city’s handling of the suffocation death of a black man. 

41-year-old Daniel Prude died several days after a run-in with police back in March, but a video of that encounter surfaced just days ago, sparking protests.

Officers found Prude running naked down the street, handcuffed him and put a hood over his head to stop him from spitting. They then held him down for about two minutes. During that time, he stopped breathing. He died a week later when doctors removed him from life support.

Prude had the drug PCP in his system, but the official cause of death was listed as “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.”

Mayor Warren said she did not ask outgoing Police Chief La’Ron Singletary for his resignation. 

She added that she believes he’s given his very best.

Wildfires continue to ravage California » New wildfires ravaged bone-dry California during a scorching Labor Day weekend and throughout the day Tuesday. 

The state’s largest utility had to turn off power to nearly 200,000 customers to try to prevent power lines and equipment from sparking more fires.

Governor Gavin Newsom said firefighters continue to fight new wildfires. 

NEWSOM: The Creek Fire being one of them. The Valley Fire now in San Diego, 3 percent contained, some 17,000 acres impacted so far. The El Dorado fire in and around San Bernardino county, 10 percent containment. 

California is heading into what traditionally is the teeth of the wildfire season. And already it has set a record with 2 million acres burned this year. 

Two of the three largest fires in state history are burning in the San Francisco Bay Area. More than 14,000 firefighters are battling those fires and about two dozen others around California.

House Democrats to investigate DeJoy » House Democrats said Tuesday they will investigate whether Postmaster General Louis DeJoy violated campaign finance laws at his former business. 

DeJoy is a longtime Republican supporter who has donated to President Trump’s campaign. And five people who worked for his former company, New Breed Logistics, reportedly say that either DeJoy or his aides urged them to write checks and attend fundraisers. 

The Washington Post reported that two former employees said DeJoy would later give bigger bonuses to reimburse them for the contributions.

It’s not illegal to encourage employees to contribute to candidates. But it is illegal to reimburse them as a way of getting around legal limits on campaign contributions. 

But DeJoy says that never happened. 

At a hearing last month, Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper of Tennessee pressed DeJoy on the accusation. 

COOPER: Did you pay back several of your top executives by bonusing or rewarding them?
DEJOY: That’s an outrageous claim, sir, and I resent it.
COOPER: I’m just asking a question.
DEJOY: The answer is no. 

Monty Hagler, a spokesperson for DeJoy, told The Post that DeJoy was unaware that any workers felt pressure to make donations. Hagler also said DeJoy believes he has always complied with campaign fundraising laws and regulations.

Georgia investigating double voting in primary election » Georgia’s secretary of state said Tuesday that his office has identified cases of double voting in the June primary election. 

1.1 million Georgians voted by absentee ballot in this year’s primary—a record for the state. Another 150,000 voters requested an absentee ballot but ultimately decided to vote in person instead. 

But Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said a small portion of those voters decided to vote both by mail and in person. 

RAFFENSPERGER: In both June’s merged primary and August runoff, we have found roughly 1,000 cases of double-voting here in Georgia. Let me be clear, it is a felony to double-vote in Georgia and we prosecute.

Double voting is punishable by one to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. 

It was not immediately clear whether the outcome of any races may have been affected.

(Tom Williams/Pool via AP) In this Aug. 24, 2020, file photo, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on the Postal Service on Capitol Hill 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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