News Headlines 7/21/21

CDC HEAD: DELTA VARIANT NOW MAKES UP 83 PERCENT OF COVID CASES: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in testimony before a Senate committee yesterday (July 20th) that the delta variant now makes up an estimated 83 percent of U.S. Covid-19 cases, up from 50 percent at the beginning of the month. She said the increase is happening the most in unvaccinated areas of the country, stating, “The message from CDC remains clear: the best way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 variants is to prevent the spread of disease and vaccination is the most powerful tool we have.” Addressing the issue of boosters, experts said immunity will slowly decrease, and when the vaccines get to around 70 percent to 80 percent immunity, boosters will be needed. Walensky said, “Fortunately, we’re anticipating that this will wane and not plummet, so as we see that waning, that will be our time for action.” Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell separately implored unvaccinated Americans to get vaccinated, saying, “These shots need to get in everybody’s arms as rapidly as possible or we’re going to be back in a situation in the fall that we don’t yearn for — that we went through last year.” The Kentucky Republican urged that people ignore what he called the “demonstrably bad advice” coming from pundits and others against the vaccines.

BARRACK, HEAD OF TRUMP’S INAUGURAL COMMITTEE, ARRESTED ON CHARGES OF ACTING AS FOREIGN AGENT FOR UAE: Tom Barrack, who was the chairman of former President Donald Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee, was arrested Tuesday (July 20th) on charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the United Arab Emirates. The 74-year-old Barrack was one of three men charged with acting as unregistered foreign agents as they tried to influence U.S. policy on behalf of the UAE while Trump was running for president in 2016 and later while he was president. Additionally, prosecutors said Barrack gave UAE officials sensitive information about developments in the Trump administration. Barrack, who’s a longtime close friend of Trump, was also charged with obstruction of justice and making multiple false statements during a 2019 interview with federal agents. He has denied any wrongdoing.

HAITI INSTALLS NEW PRIME MINISTER: The Haitian government installed a new prime minister on Tuesday (July 20th), two weeks after the July 7th assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry was sworn in to replace interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who assumed leadership  with the backing of police and the military after the assassination. Henry has promised to form a provisional consensus government until elections are held. Meanwhile, Police Chief Leon Charles announced the arrest of four more people, at least three of them police officers, saying, “There was infiltration in the police. It happened with money.” At least 26 people have been arrested in the case, three of them Haitian-Americans.

FLOODING INUNDATES CHINESE CITY, KILLING 12, TRAPPING PEOPLE IN SUBWAYS: Severe flooding inundated the Chinese city of Zhengzhou on Tuesday (July 20th), dropping a stunning eight inches of rain in one hour between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. and killing at least 12 people. Streets were turned into rapid rivers, cars floated away, and water flooded subway stations, with video showing people trapped in subway cars in water up to their chests. Many people stranded by the flooding were spending the night in their workplaces.

COUPLE WHOSE GENDER REVEAL PARTY STARTED WILDFIRE CHARGED WITH MANSLAUGHTER: A Southern California couple whose use of a pyrotechnic device during a gender reveal party last September started the El Dorado Fire that killed a firefighter have been charged with involuntary manslaughter. Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez pled not guilty Monday (July 19th), it was reported Tuesday. The party was held at the El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa.