News Headlines 7/9/21

COLLAPSED CONDO DEATH TOLL RISES TO 64, OFFICIALS SAYS WON’T STOP UNTIL ALL REMAINS RECOVERED: The official death toll from the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, Florida, rose to 64 yesterday (July 8th), with the recovery of more remains on the first day of the effort having switched to being one of rescue to one of recovery. There are still 76 people missing. The rescue teams paused briefly to mark the two-week anniversary of the disaster yesterday. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky has said he expects the recovery effort will take several more weeks, and rescuers are saying they won’t stop until all the remains are recovered. Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said a news conference yesterday evening that a fire official had told family members earlier that the rescuers, quote, “will not stop working until they’ve gotten to the bottom of the pile and recovered every single of the families’ missing loved ones.” He added, “This is exactly the message the families wanted to hear.”

TWO WITH DUAL U.S. CITIZENSHIP AMONG THOSE HELD IN HAITIAN PRESIDENT’S ASSASSINATION: Two men believed to hold dual U.S. and Haitian citizenship are among the 17 people who’ve been detained in the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise at his home early Wednesday. They were identified by Haitian officials as James Solages and Joseph Vincent. Solages started a charity in Florida in 2019 to help people in the Haitian town of Jacmel, and previously worked as a bodyguard at the Canadian Embassy in Haiti, according to charity’s website. Canada said he was “briefly employed as a reserve bodyguard” by a private contractor. The chief of the National Police, Leon Charles, also said Thursday night (July 8th) that 15 of the suspects are from Colombia, and at least six of them are former members of Colombia’s army. Charles said three other suspects had been killed and eight more are being sought. The head of the Colombian national police said President Ivan Duque had ordered the army and police to cooperate in the investigation.

BIDEN: U.S. MILITARY OPERATION IN AFGHANISTAN TO END AUGUST 31: President Biden said yesterday (July 8th) that the 20-year U.S. military operation in Afghanistan will end on August 31st, pushing back against those calling for the U.S. to extend the involvement as the Taliban has made advances in significant parts of the country as the U.S. is leaving. Speaking from the White House, Biden said, “How many more, how many more thousands of American daughters and sons are you willing to risk? I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan, with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome.” While acknowledging that it’s unlikely the Afghan government would control of the country after the U.S. leaves, Biden urged the Afghan government and the Taliban to reach a peace deal, stating, “We did not go to Afghanistan to nation build.” Biden emphatically stated, “We went for two reasons: one, to bring Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, as I said at the time. The second reason was to eliminate al-Qaida’s capacity to deal with more attacks on the United States from that territory. We accomplished both of those objectives. Period. That’s why I believe this is the right decision and quite frankly overdue.”

PFIZER TO SEEK AUTHORIZATION FOR THIRD DOSE OF COVID VACCINE: Pfizer will seek federal authorization for a third dose of its Covid-19 vaccine, saying yesterday (July 8th) that getting a third shot within 12 months could dramatically increase immunity and potentially help block the Delta variant if immunity wanes. Pfizer’s Dr. Mikael Dolsten told AP early data from their booster study suggests people’s antibody levels go up five- to 10-fold after a third dose, compared to their second dose. However, hours later, U.S. health officials said that fully vaccinated Americans don’t need a booster shot yet. The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said any decision on boosters would take place only when, quote, “the science demonstrates that they are needed.” Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday, “Let me emphasize, if you were vaccinated, you have a very high degree of protection.”