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tv   CNN Newsroom Live  CNN  October 25, 2020 12:00am-1:00am PDT

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this is cnn breaking news. >> hello and welcome to you, our viewers here in the united states, canada, and around the world. i'm kim brunhuber. this is "cnn newsroom." we'll start with breaking news. new cases of covid-19 are escalating so rapidly in the united states that even the office of the u.s. vice president is directly affected. two senior aides to vice president mike pence have tested positive in recent days. pence's office revealed chief of staff mark short has begun
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quarantine and the vice president and second lady have tested negative. and cnn has learned another senior adviser, marty ost, tested positive, though it's not clear exactly when. this is a big deal for a couple of reasons. one of them, because the vice president is head of the white house coronavirus task force. those members have often publicly ignored the same rules they recommend to the rest of the country. that includes quarantine for anyone who's had close contact with an infected person, as the vice president has. but pence isn't leaving the campaign trail. instead, his schedule is packed with rallies and events where face masks are few and social distancing is nonexistent. more than 83,000 americans tested positive for the coronavirus on saturday, a day after the u.s. reached a new daily high. the virus is front and center on the campaign trail with just nine days to go until the presidential election. donald trump and joe biden are hitting key states.
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we begin with cnn's jeremy diamond as the president fights for a second term. >> reporter: president trump campaigning once again in the battle ground state of wisconsin. this time the president doing so against a grim backdrop as it relates to coronavirus. not only with a surge in cases across the country, a record number of new coronavirus cases on friday just before the president arrived here, but also here in the state of wisconsin. on friday, wisconsin experiencing its highest number of coronavirus cases in a single day during this entire pandemic. hospitalizations, deaths, they're on the rise. not only across the country, but here in the state of wisconsin as well. and yet what we see here, the president gathering thousands of his supporters once again for an event where they are closely packed together, and most people as usual not wearing masks. the president also continuing to spread misinformation about the virus and downplaying the
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seriousness of the pandemic, making a false claim, as he often does, if there wasn't so much testing in the united states, that there wouldn't be as many cases as there are. what we know is that the surge of coronavirus cases here in the u.s. is very real, despite what the president is saying. the president did highlight the importance of this battleground state as he was campaigning here, saying that if he wins the state of wisconsin, he believes that he could win the election. jeremy diamond, cnn, wisconsin. joe biden struck a very different tone as he stumped in pennsylvania, and he got some help saturday from his former boss, barack obama. cnn's arlette saenz brings us that part of the story from florida. >> reporter: former president barack obama traveled here to the critical battleground state of florida, reminding vote there's they helped deliver the white house for him in 2008 and 2012, and asking them to do the
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same for joe biden this time around. he also predicted that if biden wins florida, the election will basically be over as he encouraged volunteers and supporters to keep up their work for the former vice president. and while obama touted the work and leadership style of his former partner, he also took aim at president trump, slamming his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and also criticizing president trump's behavior in office, saying that it's not normal. and president obama also talked about that upcoming interview president trump did with "60 minutes." >> when "60 minutes" and lesley stahl are too tough for you, you ain't all that tough. hey, if you got to walk out of the "60 minutes" interview? then you're never going to stand up to a dictator. if you're spending all your time complaining about how mean reporters are to you, you're not going to stand up to putin.
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>> reporter: while president obama was here in florida, joe biden campaigned in pennsylvania, holding a drive-in rally with musical artist jon bon jovi. that event took place in lucerne county, a county they won in 2008 and '12, but a county president trump flipped in 2016. biden trying to make a play for those obama/trump counties as the election nears. both had a message when it came to early voting. they have reached that point in the campaign where the biden campaign is really focusing on turnout as the election is now just nine days away. arlette saenz, cnn, north miami, florida. >> to discuss, natasha lindstat, university of essex, joining from us colchester, england. the news coming from the vice president's office, mike pence's chief of staff diagnosed with covid. what are the political
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ramifications given pence is head of the coronavirus task force, and also the vice president campaigning without his chief of staff? >> right. again, this just isn't good news for the trump campaign. it may not really matter, but trump is at a point where he needs all the help he can get. and this shows that the trump administration can't even contain the virus in the white house. with the case of pence, his chief of staff, mark short, tested positive. his lead adviser, marty ops, tested positive, and three advisers in his team. reportedly, the white house chief of staff, mark meadows, wanted to keep it private. there's a reason why it's not good news. what we've seen with this task force, once mike pence took over, it became very politicized. it wasn't really about listening to experts and listening to science, in fact, they wanted to downplay the virus.
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and the vice president's chief of staff, mark short, in particular wanted to downplay things. and they also wanted to ensure that all communication from public health agencies, all of it had to go through mike pence's team. and this was to try to be in step with what trump wanted, that this is going to go away. and this is what we're seeing trump doing on the campaign trail. he keeps telling everyone that this is going to go away, we're rounding the corner now. yet he just had a super-spreader-like event in the villages in florida. they're ignoring all the safety protocols and really not being honest to the american public, and this is really important, because trump is the most important communicator to the american public about the dangers of the virus. >> right. and as you say, mike pence, his chief of staff, all of the people around them, are often seen on the campaign trail going to rallies packed with people,
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just like the president and the vice president is continuing, planning to continue campaigning, and that contrast with vice presidential nominee kamala harris, who took off a couple of days off campaigning when a close aide tested positive earlier this month. so will the campaign pay any political price for this type of behavior? or will it be seen as a sign of strength to carry on. >> we've been seeing that the polls haven't shifted very much. the base is incredibly loyal to trump. they get alternative sources of news. they don't believe a lot of the legitimate news media, what they're trying to offer and explain to them. so we see that one group of people, it doesn't really matter for them. and then you also have biden supporters who are on the other side who are wanting more regulations, who want the federal effort to be more concerted and stronger and better organized. but for trump, what he needs to
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do is win over these last undecided voters. now at the exact same time in 2016, this is where the polls really started to tighten for clinton, and trump started to make a lot of ground. because the fbi, of course, had announced they were investigating her emails. trump needed some big shakeup, some big thing to happen that was going to really shift the polls and move voters in his direction. and this type of news story just isn't going to help him. >> so essentially, will it use up all the oxygen, not all the oxygen, but valuable oxygen, as we're heading into the last days of the campaign? will this be sort of a big and unwelcome distraction from their message of shifting the focus away from covid? >> it makes it hard for the american people to think that we are rounding the corner here, as trump likes to say.
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that's really what the key issue was of the final debate. you saw that biden kept criticizing trump about the covid crisis that we're about to head into a very long winter that he's downplaying it too much, that we need to have a strong federal response. and trump keeps trying to tell people, we're almost over this thing. that's really dangerous, because trump feels that he has to say this because it's vital for the economy, and the economy is the other big issue in the campaign. but i think what many americans know is that we're not going to recover economically until we get the covid crisis under control. so if this continues to be the key issue of the campaign and not other issues that may play to trump's strengths better, like this idea that he's this law and order president or that the economy is only going to be good under him, then that's going to be problematic for him. i think that with covid being the focus, he's not going to be able to distract voters that are just in the middle or undecided,
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for whatever reason, that he's the best person to take us through to the next four years. >> natasha lindstat, thank you so much. >> thank is for having me. millions of americans aren't waiting until november 3rd to vote, they're out now making their voices heard, and they're telling us why this year's election is so important ories. mal... hey, no! roxy! audiobooks, podcasts, audible originals, all in one place.
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. nine days to go until the u.s. presidential election. the candidates and voters are making their voices heard. donald trump ask joe biden are hitting key battleground states while early voters spend hours in line in new york. it was the state's first day of early in-person voting and officials say almost 94,000 people cast ballots in new york city alone. more than 52 million americans have cast early ballots so far. cnn is reporting from polling places across the country asking why they're motivated this year. paul vercammen and natasha shep.
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>> reporter: as of noon saturday, 2.6 million votes have been cast in the state of georgia. when you look at both the in-person early voting along with the absentee ballots cast, that's 114% increase over the same point in the 2016 election. we've been seeing tremendous enthusiasm and energy even in the rain as people continue to wait to cast their votes. we have talked to a number of people in line who represent the changing demographics in georgia. a younger, more diverse group that is adjoining the voter rolls. we met one couple in atlanta who said that they are considering very important issues as they cast their ballots this time. >> we think about the character of this country, who we were for. i just want my voice heard on that. >> yeah, i think also, having a young daughter, we're also looking at the world for her. i think our vote now speaks even
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more than it did as young, single people. it's not just for right now, it's for the future. >> reporter: over the past 20 years, there's been a significant increase in the percentage of african-american voters making up the electorate here in georgia. according to a recent study by pew research, georgia also has the largest growth of any state in the country of eligible immigrant voters. in fact, we met a voter here who was recently naturalized and excited about participating in her first u.s. election. something else that's changed the electorate, georgia in 2016 started automatically registering people to vote when they got their driver's licenses. so a lot of young people joining the voter rolls. natasha chen, cnn, marietta, georgia. >> reporter: one of the places where early voting began in person in los angeles county, staples center, home to the lakers, the sparks, and the kings, along with aeg. they put on this event.
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lines long in the morning. and the people here came in and cast those ballots in person. many of them were laker fans. they sort of heeded the urging of lebron james, the team star, who said from the nba bubble, we need to get more people, especially african-americans, out and voting. >> the reason why is because, number one, this is staples center, home of the lakers. number two, i want to make a difference, cast my vote, and what better place than staples center. >> reporter: exit polling, of course california is a blue state. here in the center of los angeles we met one woman who echoed the sentiments of many voting for joe biden. >> i voted for joe biden and kamala harris, because i felt that was the best choice to vote for today. if anybody could vote, i urge you to vote your heart, but i just felt better about voting for kamala harris and joe biden
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because i felt that the country needs to come together, and they'll be the best party to bring the country together. >> reporter: in los angeles county, so far 1.3 million votes have been cast early, overall for the state a little more than 6 million votes cast. reporting from staples center, paul vercammen, back to you. u.s. national security experts have warned for a while that the presidential election would be a target for countries such as russia, iran, china. one possible threat to voters comes from a source much closer to home. cnn's pamela brown explains. >> reporter: new concerns about possible voter intimidation. after the trump campaign filmed voters at a philadelphia polling station, the campaign claims it found at least three people dropping off more than one ballot each. what trump team's attorney believes is just the tip of the iceberg in what could constitute unlawful absentee voting. but voters are allowed to drop
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off ballots for people who are disabled and state officials warned the videos might be interpreted as intimidation. >> voter intimidation is illegal, videotaping you, taking pictures of you without your consent, is part of that. >> reporter: which the trump campaign calls categorically absurd. on election interference, intelligence officials confirm russian hackers have stolen election data. it's unclear how the information will be used. officials say iran used voter information to send threatening emails that came to light this week. >> iran and russia have taken specific actions to influence public opinion relating to our elections. >> reporter: the federal government issued two new cybersecurity alerts warning that state and local governments were targeted. but officials say election infrastructure has not been compromised. the intelligence community generally agrees that russians interfered four years ago to
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help trump win. despite that, president trump slammed the assessment again. >> they both want you to lose, because there has been nobody tougher to russia, between the sanctions, nobody tougher than me on russia. >> reporter: intelligence experts agree stopping russia should be the priority. >> russia has been interfering in the run-up to our election already. and for my part, at least, is the far more serious threat than iran. >> reporter: more than 50 million americans have already turned in their ballots. >> i'd rather get it done and over with and do it early. that way i'll know i've voted. >> reporter: more than half those votes come from cnn's 16 most competitive states. and one of the fiercest battlegrounds, north carolina. over 2.5 million ballots have been cast. that's more than half of the total turnout in 2016. we are learning more about 2020's first election ransomware attack. it happened in georgia. in one georgia county, officials there said the hack affected a
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voter signature database and precinct maps. they do not believe it affected the election infrastructure. and security experts say it was likely more about profit than politics, but they are concerned about these ransomware attacks as we get closer to election day, because they can cause chaos and confusion. pamela brown, cnn, washington. >> joining me in san francisco, california, renee duresta, technical research manager at the stanford internet observatory. thank you for being here on this very important topic, given what happened in 2016, with so much misinformation being spread, primarily by russia. going into this election there were lots of concerns about the international and intentional spread of misinformation and how it might affect the vote. from what you've seen, has it been as bad during this campaign? and what, if any, are the differences between 2016 and
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now? >> sure. right now what we're actually seeing is a lot more misinformation originating from domestic sources. so misinformation meaning information that's inadvertently wrong, as opposed to the dis-information campaigns that you're alluding to with regard to russia. we're seeing information that oftentimes starts because somebody snaps a photo of maybe a ballot that's been misplaced, something they see in the trash, amplified by domestic influencers who want to spread a narrative to benefit a partisan side, influencers picking it up and sharing it means it reaches many more people because these are unfortunately authentic accounts with very large followings. >> who's being targeted here the way you make it sound, sounds like it's pumped into the online world for anyone to consume. or is it sort of specifically aimed at smaller but influential constituencies of voters? >> so we're seeing a lot of different types of narratives being spread.
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there's suppression-type narratives. right now we're concerned about some of the footage that is real that's showing very long lines at polling stations, then implying that people are not going to be allowed to vote. we're seeing footage that is taken out of context suggesting that police officers will interfere in the voting process, targeted at people on the left. we're seeing narratives of misleading ballot -- claims about ballots being thrown away or mail-in ballots, multiple people submitting multiple mail-in ballots. that one's more targeted at the right, which is hearing constantly about how voter fraud is going to be committed and the process of the mail-in vote we're going to see a lot of because of coronavirus. so it's really running the gamut. there's no one community that's more targeted than another at this point. we are seeing a little bit more in the way of these narratives about mail-in ballot fraud disrupting the election. >> that's what i was going to say, sounds like a lot of the
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misinformation. disinformation, depending who's doing it, centers around voting or the general theme of democracy. what's the aim here? >> well, unfortunately, the aim seems to be discrediting confidence in the outcome of the election by discrediting confidence in the result of the election. insinuating if we can't run a free and fair election in which one person, one vote, ballots are counted fairly, everybody's vote counts, the concern right now is that there's substantial lack of confidence in the process. and what that might mean is that 50% of the population doesn't trust the outcome if their preferred candidate doesn't win because they've been hearing about how the election is going to be stolen or manipulated by the other side. >> it sounds hike what you're saying is echoing a lot of what president trump is saying out loud. is this in any way to help him or help his followers? >> well, unfortunately, one of
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the things we never expected to see was the president of the united states participating in this process. that was, i think, not on anybody's -- things that we expected to see in 2016. in 2016, what we saw a lot of with regard to these narratives about election machines not working or people fraudulently voting was coming from russian trolls. interestingly, that was one of the common themes that they kept trying to amplify in 2016, targeting the right-leaning communities that they had built pages for and created fake personas around. those pages and those personas really leaned into the idea that the election was going to be stolen in the two weeks leading up to election 2016. now we're seeing those themes echoed, but instead of by russian trolls, being echoed by extremely prominent influencers with very large followers. >> thank you so much, renee, we appreciate it. a russian coronavirus vaccine went public a few months
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welcome back to our viewers in the united states, canada, and around the world. i'm kim brunhuber and you're watching "cnn newsroom. cnn has learned two senior aides to u.s. vice president mike pence tested positive for coronavirus. that includes the man you see there, mark short, his chief of staff. despite pence being in close contact with short as recently as friday, the vice president
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plans to continue campaigning. he was in florida saturday and plans to visit north carolina later today. this comes as the u.s. reports its second-highest day of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. on saturday, more than 83,000 people were diagnosed, just shy of the record high set on friday. that's according to data tracked by johns hopkins university. a white house report warns several regions in the u.s. are showing signs of deterioration with the virus surging. 35 states are reporting case increases of 10% or more. no state, not one of them, is trending in the right direction. several european countries are hitting record highs of covid-19 infections and many fear cases will continue to go up as we approach winter. plus more european leaders are testing positive, including poland's president. cnn's scott mcclain is standing by in berlin. you've been tracking major developments across the continent. what's the latest?
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>> hey, kim. the coronavirus numbers continue to rise across europe. each country is really trying to find the silver bullet to tamp down this second wave. so far, that search is continuing. what all these countries have in common is the restrictions they have managed to bring in are much more localized, targeted, and more limited than the first time around. i want to show you a couple of graphics that illustrate the situation that we're seeing here in europe. the first one is a rolling average of the coronavirus cases. you can see that the second wave of the virus has long eclipsed the first wave. pay attention to the dates at the bottom as we show you the rolling average of the coronavirus deaths. deaths are lagging behind the number of cases. and the second wave has been sort of slow to come when it comes to deaths. but i want to show you one other thing. there's a big divide between western european countries and eastern european countries. first, here's a graphic that
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shows the uk, france, spain, germany, italy. spain has fared the worst, germany the best. by and large that second wave of coronavirus deaths has really paled in comparison to what they saw earlier in the year. then when we look at countries in eastern europe -- croatia, poland, romania, hungary, czech republic -- it is a different picture. their first wave of the virus was much more muted, much more subtle, than in western european countries. they didn't see the death tolls. now they're seeing them in a really big way, especially in poland, where they're seeing four times more deaths than they were at the peak of the first infection, or the first wave, i should say. the czech republic seeing nine times more cases. their health care system there is really at the brink of collapse. the health minister set out a date where he thinks the hospitals are going to be overwhelmed with patients. he thinks as soon as november 7th. they are bringing in medics, bringing in doctors from the
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united states national guard to get help. they're setting up a field hospital that they expect they might need by the end of this month. one other note on polish president andre duda, he tested positive for the virus, he says he is isolating, so far he doesn't have any coronavirus symptoms. >> that graphic you showed was quite disturbing indeed. thank you so much, scott mcclain in berlin, we appreciate it. even if there were a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine, only about half of americans say they would take it. that's obviously a huge problem. the director of the national institutes of health says the virus could be here for years if only half the u.s. takes the vaccine. dozens of pharmaceutical companies around the world are racing to find a vaccine that can slow the spread of the virus. nine are in the u.s., 12 in china, russia has two, including the controversial sputnik z that was registered for public use. of course, russia has been bragging about the speed at
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which it developed that coronavirus vaccine, but in an exclusive interview with cnn, the vaccine's main developer admits that it's actually not recommended for some of those most at risk from covid-19. cnn's fred pleitgen explains why. >> reporter: as russia deals with a new spike in coronavirus infections, despite having already approved two vaccines for emergency use, the head of the gam mayleia institute says it could take up to a year for the majority of russians to get shots, as production sites are still in the process of going online. >> translator: plant capacity of these full sites by the next year should reach about 5 million doses per month, which will allow 70% of our population to be vaccinates with this vaccine within nine, ten, a maximum of 12 months. >> reporter: russia certified the sputnik vaccine with great
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fanfare in august after testing it in only a few dozen people. the move hailed as a major pr victory for vladimir putin, as russia claims to be outpacing western pharma firms. but in current large trials, sputnik v is lagging well behind western candidates, its makers telling cnn only 6,000 participants have so far received the two doses necessary to achieve complete immunization and start collecting data. compared to almost 30,000 in some large western trials. tra all this as russian state tv is trashing the uk's vaccine candidate calling it a monkey vaccine, despite the fact that russia itself has made a deal to produce this very vaccine under license. the head of russia's direct investment fund, which is bankrolling sputnik v., claiming moscow's vaccine is superior because it uses so-called human adeno-virus technology.
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>> we decided to show something already existing, something already safe, something already proven. many people in the west failed to think about this. >> reporter: but even the sputnik vaccine's instructions say it's only indicated for people 18 to 60, and not for people with some allergies and illnesses, leaving out older age groups, and people with health conditions. some of the most vulnerable to severe cases of covid-19. the head of the gamma leia institute told cnn the vaccine hasn't been tested in older people, but he believes the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions can still take it. >> translator: with many chronic diseases, in particular people with diabetes, it is not just that it is carried out, it is prescribed to vaccinate people, because these are risk groups that need to be protected. these people, people with cardiac diseases, these are chronic diseases. you need to vaccinate. >> reporter: russia says it will soon ramp up production of sputnik v. to vaccinate more medical workers and other high-risk groups, a move
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constantin, a top vaccine expert at the global virus network, called dangerously risky. >> so i think that there's a reason why they call it russian roulette. this is exactly it. >> reporter: one russian who isn't taking the sputnik v. vaccine so far is the president, vladimir putin. his spokesman telling cnn, putin is, quote, thinking about it. fred pleitgen, cnn, moscow. asian americans contract covid-19 at about the same rate as white americans, according to the cdc, yet they're also dealing with another blow from the pandemic, a soaring unemployment rate. cnn's mara walker has the details. >> reporter: lunchtime at this chinese restaurant is typically a busy hour that was before the pandemic. now at canton house in atlanta, it's mostly empty tables and an unusually quiet dining room. >> my god, the business dropped
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98%. >> reporter: the restaurant industry was among the hardest hit during the coronavirus pandemic, but owner kim wong is facing a struggle unique to asian americans, a double whammy of historic unemployment and discrimination. >> at the time we closed, we do have our window broken, and with a hammer, without any reason whatsoever. at that time, we really think that's racism. >> reporter: as covid-19 has spread, so has the racism and xenophobia. members of the united nations committee on discrimination recently expressed concern over an alarming level of racially motivated incidents against asian americans, saying president trump's rhetoric seems to play a role in legitimizing the hate crimes. 60-year-old wong reopened his dining room in may. business is still down 50%. he wonders if discrimination is slowing down recovery.
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>> when we first opened, i do have a feeling that the people say, don't go to chinese restaurants. >> people were avoiding asian businesses because they thought they would get the coronavirus from these businesses. >> reporter: an economics professor at the university of massachusetts says covid-19 has taken a heavy economic toll on asian americans. according to government statistics from february to june, asian american unemployment rates increased by more than 450%. >> asians typically have among the lowest unemployment rates. and it's really shot up during covid. >> reporter: a visit to atlanta's chinatown underscores the struggle. this gift shop is closing at the end of the month. other businesses here tell us they are just trying to survive. yet kim says few are taking notice. >> i think it's been overlooked because people don't think that asians have problems.
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people think of asians as a model minority. >> no, we are struggling. >> reporter: wong, who came to the united states as a refugee from vietnam, remains hopeful. he says he's been living the american dream for 40 years and hopes for 40 more. >> we have a dream, to get to business, to have a house, to have a stable life, peaceful life, to have a family, to raise our kids. but hopefully our dream is not broken because of this covid-19. >> reporter: wong tells me he just started breaking even, so he's got quite a ways to go still. he's concerned about a second wave of covid-19 hurting his business, but he says he's the most concerned about the outcome of the presidential election and whether that will inflame racial tensions. enough is enough, says the
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police chief, but protesters are saying the government isn't doing enough to end police brutality. a full report ahead.
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in nigeria, chaotic scenes of looting and destruction have prompted the deployment of the nation's entire police force. this comes after weeks of protests across the country over police brutality. the government shut down the special anti-rob by squad amid accusations that members of that unit have harassed, kidnapped, extorted, even murdered citizens. as cnn reports, this past week was a bloody one in lagos. >> reporter: broken glass and debris on the streets of lagos. shattered remnants in protests over police brutality that quickly turned from peaceful to
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deadly. there is a tense calm in the city now. but on tuesday night, the city erupted into chaos after eyewitnesses say multiple protesters were shot and killed by army soldiers. the army has dismissed reports of the incident as fake news. the shootings set off a wave of anger across the country. many shops and businesses have been burned or damaged, and there is widespread looting. in the worst unrest in the country since its return to civilian rule in 1999. it is one of the biggest political challenges so far for the country's president, mohammad due beharry. on thursday he addressed the nation, appealing for calm. >> your voice has been heard loud and clear, and we are responding. >> reporter: but critics say he waited too long to make a public
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statement. and didn't address the events on tuesday, which has further angered many nigerians. >> people died, people lost their loved ones, and he didn't mention anything about it. >> this peace was peaceless. >> reporter: the state governor spoke to cnn and said he is committed to a full investigation of what happened, and people will be held accountable. but also says demonstrators should have left when they were told, as a curfew was in effect. >> the protesters had time to also -- to have left. but it's totally containable. >> reporter: the process began more than two weeks ago and have been largely driven by young people in nigeria, organizing on social media under calling for the police unit known as the special rob by squad to be
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disbanded under allegations of disnaping, harass. and extortion. under intense pressure, the government agreed to dissolve the unit and redeploy officers under a different team. but the movement continued, widening to include economic reforms and more protections against the police. the voices raised here in a call for justice have found willing echoes around the world, gaining international attention from celebrities like beyonce and rihanna. placing a spotlight on shootings that have yet to be fully explained and the growing discontent from the country's youth. chairman lee of samsung has died. his son has been leading the company since becoming vice chairman in 2012 and is expected
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according to one popular conspiracy theory, the
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coronavirus was created in a chinese lab as a bioweapon. now there's no actual evidence of that. experts say the science doesn't hold up. but even so, the theory has been embraced by many allies and supporters of the u.s. president. in fact, the theory has a direct link to one of trump's biggest backers. here's drew griffin with a cnn exclusive investigation. >> reporter: it is a right-wing fueled conspiracy theory pushed to millions of americans. dr. lee ming yang, a chinese scientist in hiding but appearing everywhere on right-wing media, claiming her two research papers prove the virus that causes covid-19 was created in a chinese lab and is a chinese bioweapon. >> it is a modern bioweapon in an unrestricted way. >> reporter: a cnn investigation has found shoddy citations, questionable sourcing, and so many scientists who say it's
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bunk, her paper not a credible scientific work. but it is directly linked to one of donald trump's former top strategists, steve bannon. >> do you believe that a super-spreader or someone was sent and somehow has been focused on the white house or focused on trump -- >> 100%. >> reporter: that 100% comes from chinese billionaire and exile using his money, and bannon's media expertise, to try to discredit the chinese government. they appear together on bannon's podcasts, fill the pages of a website called "g news," began two nonprofits together, the rule of law society, and rule of law foundation. these are the groups who support the doctor and appear on the top of her research reports. columbia university virologist angela rasmussen says the papers are scientific junk. >> anybody with an actual
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background in virology or molecular biology who reads this paper will realize much of it is actually nonsense. >> reporter: cnn spoke to a half dozen scientists who say the papers are filled with half-truths, not scientifically tenable, one who met with her and said her first study wasn't plausible. university of michigan professor anna mapp says the paper lacked a basic obligation to scientific practices. >> it was also really disturbing to see such a shoddy piece of work. >> reporter: cnn could find no trace of the three coauthors, in the u.s. or china. she didn't respond to tell us why. but a source tells us those $coauthors are pseudonyms for u.s.-based chinese scientists who fear using their own names, but the source offered no proof. miles gwo told us jan's work is her work independent of any control by me.
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steve bannon has no response. some sources of her research appear to not be credible. amanda piper alerted cnn to citations at the end of the paper. >> people who aren't experts, people who aren't scientists, people who haven't done anything. these are not coming from credible sources. i think that's really concerning. >> reporter: a cnn analysis finds the citations include a paper that appeared only as a post on a linkedin. a report written by a person that cnn cannot locate, running a company that does not seem to exist. three of the citations that link to posts on a website opposed to genetically modified food. then there is citation 23, which links to anonymous blog posts, published in march, parts of the papers appear to be pulled directly from these anonymous blogs. >> i don't want to say copied and pasted but the same effect. >> they took the exact same figures and phrasing, the exact same captions, and put those into the report that was yan's
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paper. that does not happen in science. >> reporter: and guess where one of those blogs first appeared months before yan's paper? g-news, the disinformation news site linked to steve bannon and miles gwo. >> and as much as i hate to think of the idea of competent scientists using their work for political propaganda, to me that's what this seems to be. we'll have more from the "cnn newsroom" in just a moment, stay with us. it's moving day. and while her friends
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