News Headlines 7/13/21

BIDEN CALLS CUBA PROTESTS ‘CLARION CALL FOR FREEDOM’; POLICE PATROL HAVANA IN LARGE NUMBERS: One day after thousands of Cubans demonstrated in the capital of Havana and elsewhere in the communist nation in rare anti-government protests not seen in decades, driven by food shortages and high prices amid the pandemic, President Biden called them a “clarion call for freedom” on Monday (July 12th). Biden said in statement, “We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime. The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights.” Meanwhile, large groups of police patrolled in Havana on Monday, and Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel blamed Cuban-Americans in the U.S., saying they stirred up the protests on social media. He said in a nationally televised appearance, “That’s the way it’s done: Try to create inconformity, dissatisfaction by manipulating emotions and feelings.”

WARNING ABOUT RARE NEUROLOGICAL REACTION ADDED TO JOHNSON & JOHNSON COVID VACCINE: The Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday (July 12th) that a new warning was being added to Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine about a rare, potentially dangerous, neurological reaction, although it’s not entirely clear that the vaccine caused it. There have been reports of about 100 of the nearly 13 million Americans who’ve gotten the J&J vaccine developing Guillain-Barre syndrome, an immune system disorder that can cause muscle weakness and occasionally paralysis that’s usually temporary. Of them, one person died and almost all were hospitalized. Most of them were men, many of then aged 50 and older. Guillain-Barre can be triggered by a number of infections, and there have been rare cases after receiving certain vaccines.

RECOVERED CONDO COLLAPSE VICTIMS RISES TO 94: The number of victims recovered from the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, Florida, rose to 94 on Monday (July 12th) with the recovery of the remains of four more people. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said that 22 people still remain missing. Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said officials planned to increase security at the site to make sure that victims’ personal possessions are preserved for their families.

TEXAS DEMOCRATS LEAVE STATE TO TRY TO BLOCK REPUBLICAN VOTING BILL: Democratic state lawmakers in Texas left the state yesterday (July 12th) in an effort to prevent passage of a Republican bill with sweeping new voting restrictions in a special legislative session by denying the Texas House of Representatives attendance of enough members to conduct business. More than 50 Democrats flew to Washington, D.C., saying they were prepared to stay there for weeks until the session ends next month. This is the second time Democratic lawmakers in Texas have left to prevent the overhaul of voting laws, which they say will make it harder for young people, people of color, and people with disabilities to vote. Republican Governor Greg Abbott said in a TV interview hours later that he would just keep calling special sessions through next year if necessary to pass the legislation, and suggested the Democrats will be arrested when they return. He said, “As soon as they come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested, they will be cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done.” But Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said in D.C., “This is a now-or-never for our democracy. We are holding the line in Texas.” The lawmakers’ intent in going to Washington is to increase pressure on President Biden and Congress to enact voting rights legislation on the federal level.

SEVERAL OF THOSE TIED TO HAITI ASSASSINATION WERE INFORMANTS FOR U.S. LAW ENFORCEMENT: Several of the men who’ve been tied to last week’s assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise previously were informants for U.S. law enforcement, CNN reported yesterday (July 12th), citing sources. The Drug Enforcement Administration said in a statement that one of them was “at times . . . a confidential source to the DEA.” The DEA also said that after the assassination, the suspect reached out to his DEA contacts, and he was urged to surrender to local authorities, and the U.S. also gave the Haitian government information that “assisted in the surrender and arrest of the suspect and one other individual.” The DEA also said it was aware of reports that some of the assassins yelled “DEA” at the time of their attack, but that none of the assailants was working on the agency’s behalf. Haitian officials say the assassination operation involved at least 28 people, many of them Colombian mercenaries hired through a Florida-based security company.