August 8, 2020

This is VOA news. Reporting by remote, I'm David Byrd.

A last-ditch effort by Democrats to revive collapsing Capitol Hill talks on vital COVID-19 rescue money ended in disappointment Friday.

Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer said the White House had rejected an offer by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to curb Democratic demands by about $1 trillion.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that President Trump will now at least issue executive orders on home evictions as many jobless Americans have difficulty making rent or their mortgage payments.

"People have run out of the enhanced unemployment so that is something we will recommend an executive order on and as it relates to rental foreclosures we will recommend an executive order on that and also student loans."

The failure of negotiations came as nearly five million people have been infected and almost 161,000 people have died in the United States from the coronavirus.

A top U.S. intelligence official says at least three countries are trying to interfere in this year's presidential election. AP's Sagar Meghani reports.

In a written statement, Bill Evanina gives the U.S. intelligence agencies' most recent assessment of threats to the presidential vote.

The assessment holds China hopes President Trump does not win reelections and Russia's working against Joe Biden and Iran is looking to undermine Democratic institutions overall.

Evanina says many foreign actors have a preference in November, which they express in a range of ways. But the intelligence community is primarily concerned about ongoing and potential activity by those three.

Sagar Meghani, Washington.

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The top infectious disease expert in the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says that if proper public health guidelines are allowed, the country could come out of the fall and winter seasons looking good on the coronavirus pandemic.

In a special online discussion with the Brown School of Public Health, Fauci said he was cautiously optimistic about trials for a coronavirus vaccine because early trials show it working as well or better than plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19.

"... the reason I do feel cautiously optimistic is that when you look at the early response - both in the animal data, but importantly in the human phase one - it induces a response with neutralizing antibodies ...."

For some people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, for others, specially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause severe illness and death.

Police in southern India say at least 17 people were killed and 123 others injured when an Air India Express flight bringing people home to India who had been trapped abroad because of the coronavirus skilled off a runway and split in two while landing Friday in heavy rain.

The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, the territory's current and former police chiefs and eight other officials for their role in curtailing political freedoms in Hong Kong.

Last month, Carrie Lam postponed a September 6 election to Hong Kong's legislature by one year because of the rising coronavirus cases dealing a blow to the pro-democracy opposition that had hoped to make huge gains.

The United States condemned that action, saying it was the latest example of Beijing undermining democracy in the Chinese-ruled territory.

U.S. employment growth slowed considerably in July. AP's Shelley Adler reports.

Normally adding 1.8 million jobs would be an outstanding report, but it's disappointing after June gains of 4.8 million jobs and 2.7 million in May, and it all has to do with the resurgence of COVID-19.

Even counting the hiring of the past three months, the Labor Department says the economy has now recovered only about 42 percent of the 22 million jobs that it lost to the pandemic.

The unemployment rate falls to 10.2 although that still exceeds the highest rate during the 2008-2009 Great Recession.

Shelley Adler, Washington.

For more on these stories and the rest of the day's news, log on to our website. Reporting by remote, I'm David Byrd, VOA news.