News Headlines 7/8/21

SEARCH EFFORT AT COLLAPSED CONDO MOVES FROM RESCUE TO RECOVERY: After a two-week search at the site of the Champlain Towers South condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, didn’t find any survivors in the rubble since the day of the disaster on June 24th, the effort shifted from rescue to recovery of remains at midnight last night (July 7th). The change came after authorities said they’d concluded there was “no chance” of finding anyone alive, with Mayor Daniella Levine Cava saying, “We have all asked God for a miracle, so the decision to transition from rescue to recovery is an extremely difficult one.” Rescue workers, local officials and clergy members stood at attention for a moment of silence to mark the transition. Near the end of the ceremony, an accordion player nearby  played “Fanfare for the Common Man,” followed by a piccolo playing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” After more victims were recovered yesterday, the confirmed death toll is now 54, with 86 people still missing.

FOUR SUSPECTS KILLED, TWO DETAINED AFTER ASSASSINATION OF HAITI’S PRESIDENT: Haiti’s national police chief said last night (July 7th) that four suspects had been killed and two others arrested after the assassination early yesterday morning of 53-year-old President Jovenel Moise. Haiti’s government has blamed mercenaries for the killing, with acting prime minister Claude Joseph saying a group of, quote, “highly trained and heavily armed” people attacked Moise’s home around 1 a.m., shooting him and his wife. First Lady Marine Moise was flown to Miami for medical treatment. Moise, who took office in February 2017, had been resisting calls to step down from opponents who accused him of corruption and said his term expired in February, because under their  Constitution, the term begins when a president is elected, not when they take office. Moise had been insisting he wanted to serve for the rest of the year and had been threatening to amend the Constitution to give himself more power.

COVID-19 GLOBAL DEATH TOLL PASSES FOUR MILLION: The global death toll from the Covid-19 pandemic passed four million  on Wednesday (July 7th), a stark number that’s actually widely believed to an undercount. AP notes it’s about equal to the number of people killing fighting in all wars since 1982. The U.S. has the highest death toll at more than 600,000, while Brazil is second with more than 520,000. After global deaths peaked at more than 18,000 a day in January, they’ve dropped to some 7,900 daily because of people getting vaccinated. However, the rise of the Delta variant, which is even more contagious than the Alpha variant, itself more contagious than the original virus, is stepping up the rush to get more people vaccinated.

POPE CONTINUING TO RECOVER FROM SURGERY, HAD ‘SEVERE’ NARROWING OF THE COLON: The Vatican said  Wednesday (July 7th) that Pope Francis‘ recovery from intestinal surgery on Sunday is continuing to be, quote, “regular and satisfactory,” while revealing that the narrowing of his colon that he was operated on for was “severe.” The update also said there was no evidence of cancer in the tissue that was removed, which was about half of his colon.

U.S. TELLS U.K. SAYS WON’T HOLD ASSANGE IN SUPERMAX IF EXTRADITED: The Biden administration has told Britain that if WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is extradited to the U.S., he won’t be held in the high-security Supermax prison in Colorado if he’s convicted. The pledge came as part of an appeal of a ruling by a British judge in January blocking the extradition, who said Assange was likely to commit suicide if held in those conditions, which include solitary confinement. The Justice Department also offered to let Assange serve his sentence in his native Australia if he’s  convicted. The U.S. wants to try Assange on espionage charges.