10 things you need to know today: July 8, 2021
Trump sues social media giants over bans, Haiti's turmoil deepens with president's assassination, and more
Trump sues social media companies, accusing them of censorship
Former President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he was suing Facebook, Google, and Twitter, accusing them of wrongfully censoring him and others. Trump said he was the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against the social media giants and their CEOs. Twitter and Facebook suspended Trump's accounts after some of his supporters staged a deadly attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, seeking to prevent the certification of his election loss to President Biden. The companies said Trump had violated policies against inciting violence. "We're demanding an end to the shadow-banning, a stop to the silencing and a stop to the blacklisting, banishing, and canceling that you know so well," Trump said at a news conference at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Haitian President Jovenel Moise assassinated
Haiti was thrust into deepening turmoil on Wednesday after President Jovenel Moise was assassinated at his home by a group of gunmen who falsely identified themselves as DEA agents. His wife, Martine Moise, was flown to Miami to be treated for gunshot wounds. Moise, who ruled by decree for the last two years, had faced massive protests calling for his resignation after he refused to step down at the end of his five-year term. He argued that he was prevented from taking office until a year into his term, so he should serve an extra year. Four suspects were killed in a gun battle with police. Claude Joseph, the interim prime minister, declared a "state of siege." The Caribbean nation's capital was already plagued by gang violence.
Egypt lets ship that blocked Suez Canal leave
Egyptian authorities on Wednesday let the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for days earlier this year leave the country after its owners agreed to pay millions of dollars in compensation. The Suez Canal Authority did not disclose the terms of the agreement, but the organization's chairman, Osama Rabie, said it was "a fair deal" for both sides. The ship, the Ever Given, ran aground in March and blocked the crucial global trade route for nearly a week. After it was dislodged from the canal's banks, Egyptian authorities demanded reimbursement for the costs associated with the rescue mission, and seized the ship under court order pending the result of negotiations with its owners. Authorities initially demanded $900 million.
Elsa makes landfall along Florida's northern Gulf coast
Tropical Storm Elsa made landfall Wednesday on Florida's Gulf coast north of Tampa, bringing heavy rains, high winds, and dangerous storm surge. Elsa went on to drench northern Florida and parts of Georgia. One person died in Jacksonville when a tree fell on two cars. The storm reached eastern South Carolina early Thursday with its top sustained winds down to 40 miles per hour. Tropical storm warnings were extended to parts of the Northeast as Elsa headed north. Elsa has twice briefly strengthened into a hurricane but promptly weakened both times. It was blamed for at least three deaths in the Caribbean, where it became the first hurricane of the Atlantic season on Friday.
Condo-collapse search transitions from rescue to recovery
Miami-Dade County officials said Wednesday that there was no longer hope of finding survivors at the collapsed Surfside condominium building, and searchers were shifting their focus from rescue to recovery. The news came on a day when crews found 18 more bodies in the rubble of the beachfront South Florida condominium tower that collapsed nearly two weeks ago, bringing the confirmed death toll to 54. More than 80 others remain missing. Thirty-three of the victims have been identified. Strong winds from Tropical Storm Elsa, which hit the other side of the state, briefly hampered the search due to issues with cranes. No survivors have been found since the first hours after the 12-story Champlain Towers South building partially collapsed just north of Miami Beach.
Federal COVID-19 surge team deployed to Missouri as Delta variant spreads
The federal government has deployed a COVID-19 surge team to southwest Missouri to help address a sharp increase in coronavirus cases. The state's caseload jumped over the past week to become the second highest in the nation, behind Arkansas, due to increasing infections with the highly transmissible Delta variant. "We're already starting to see places with low vaccination rates starting to have relatively big spikes from the Delta variant," said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that the Delta variant is now likely the most common strain of the coronavirus in the United States, accounting for an estimated 51.7 percent of new cases over the two weeks ending July 3.
Ex-South Africa President Jacob Zuma starts 15-month prison term
Jacob Zuma, the South African liberation hero who served as president from 2009 to 2018, turned himself in to police early Thursday, right after a midnight deadline set by the Constitutional Court for his arrest on contempt of court charges. The Constitutional Court in late June ordered Zuma to spend 15 months in prison for refusing to testify in a judicial investigation of alleged widespread corruption during his presidency. Zuma's lawyers had filed a flurry of legal challenges to keep him out of prison, and hundreds of his supporters had gathered at his home, vowing to prevent his arrest — though they left on Sunday, The Associated Press noted. Zuma, 79, faces separate bribery allegations. He denies the charges.
Lightning repeat as Stanley Cup champions
The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 Wednesday night to become back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. The Game 5 victory made the Lightning the second team to repeat as National Hockey League champions in the salary cap era, after the 2016-17 Pittsburgh Penguins. "We've been knocking at the door for so many years, and now to be able to do it back-to-back, that kind of cements this group as special," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy came back from a loss with a 22-save shutout. "It's so hard to win the Stanley Cup," said captain Steven Stamkos. "And then you do it two years in a row, you deserve to go down in history." The salary cap could alter the team's lineup next year.
Poll: Percentage of Americans 'thriving' jumps to record high
The percentage of American adults saying they considered themselves to be "thriving" shot to a record high of 59.2 percent in the latest Gallup Live Evaluation Index poll, which was released Wednesday. A year ago, as the coronavirus pandemic was upending life in the United States, the figure was 46.4 percent, the lowest since Gallup began publishing the index in 2008. Respondents who rate their "current life" at a 7 or higher on a 0 to 10 and their "anticipated life in five years" an 8 or higher are considered "thriving" by Gallup's standards. Both categories had fallen throughout the last year, but have since ticked back up, indicating that the U.S.'s generally declining COVID-19 infection rate, mass vaccination effort, and gradual economic reopening have played a role in the increased satisfaction and optimism.
Actor Robert Downey Sr. dies at 85
Filmmaker and actor Robert Downey Sr., father of movie star Robert Downey Jr., died in his sleep at his New York City home, his wife said Wednesday. He was 85. Downey Sr., who battled Parkinson's disease for years, was best known for his roles in Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and To Live and Die in LA. Downey usually avoided publicity to protect his children, fellow actors Robert Downey Jr. and Allyson Downey. When his Oscar-nominated son faced cocaine charges in 2001, Downey Sr. said Hollywood life could take a toll. "Life is too easy when you're a movie star," he told the New York Post. "People will do anything you want and get you anything you want. Hollywood is a horrible place."