August 23, 2020

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

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill reversing recent changes in the U.S. Postal Service sending $25 billion in emergency funds to shore up the agency ahead of the November election.

But as AP's Ben Thomas reports, the bill is not likely to become law.

"The House will be in order."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the rare Saturday session, saying members are hearing from upset constituents.

"... not receiving your mail in a timely fashion, hits home."

She accused President Trump of abusing the disruptions as another scare tactic ahead of the November election.

"Don't pay any attention to what the president is saying because it is all designed to suppress the vote."

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was also at the Capitol Saturday with a message.

"The president's committed to making sure that our postal workers have the assets and the financial resources necessary to make sure that we have on-time deliveries."

However, as voting is about to begin, President Trump tweeted that the Postal Service needs no more money, writing "This is all another HOAX."

Ben Thomas, Washington.

India reported a record daily jump of coronavirus infections on Saturday, bringing the total to nearly 3 million. Reuters Edward Baran reports.

At least 69,878 new infections took India's total cases to around 2.98 million, behind only the United States and Brazil. COVID-19 deaths increased by 945 to 55,794, according to data from the federal health ministry.

For most of western India, especially the financial capital Mumbai, the 11-day festival of Hindu god Ganesh is usually celebrated with big public gatherings.

But strict pandemic regulations have meant the (festival) season, which begins this month, has been lackluster.

That's Reuters Edward Baran.

This is VOA news.

Leaders of Mali's military coup sat down in Bamako Saturday for talks with mediators from the West Africa's regional bloc, ECOWAS, which has strongly condemned the toppling of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

The coup leaders who call themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People were celebrated by thousands of Malians on Friday at a rally called by the M5 coalition, which has campaigned for Keita's resignation for months.

The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States has taken a particularly hardline on the coup. ECOWAS has already suspended Mali's membership, shut off borders and halted financial flows to the country. On Thursday, it demanded the immediate release of Keita.

The United States on Friday said, meanwhile, it had suspended cooperation with Mali's military.

Gravely ill Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was evacuated to Germany for medical treatment Saturday. Lauren Anthony of Reuters has details.

The long-time opponent of Russia's President Vladimir Putin and a campaigner against corruption collapsed on a plane on Thursday after drinking tea his allies believe was laced with poison.

On arrival in Berlin, 44-year-old Navalny was rushed in a convoy of ambulance and police cars to the city's Charite hospital complex.

In a statement, the hospital said it would provide an update on his condition once tests have been completed, adding this could take some time.

Medical staff at the hospital in Omsk said Friday evening that he was in an induced coma and his life was not in immediate danger.

German doctors had flown there to evacuate Navalny at the request of his wife and allies who said that the hospital treating him was badly equipped.

Navalny has been a large thorn in the Kremlin's side for more than a decade, exposing what he says is high-level graft and mobilizing rallies that draw crowds of young protesters.

That's Reuters Lauren Anthony.

Germany has held a pop concert to see how those attending would spread the coronavirus. AP correspondent Zaria Shaklee reports.

German researchers studying COVID-19 packed part of a Leipzig arena with volunteers, collecting data in a "real life" simulation of a pop concert with strict health and safety controls.

About 1,500 people took part in the experiment run by the University Hospital in Halle, each taking a coronavirus test ahead of time, testing negative, and having to wear protective masks throughout the day's testing.

Researchers equipped each volunteer with contact tracers to record their routes in the arena and track the path of the aerosols they emitted as they mingled and talked.

I'm Zaria Shaklee.

Reporting by remote, I'm David Byrd.