Your Hiatus Briefing for July 10

Haiti's president is assassinated. Tokyo won't allow Olympic spectators. The fence comes down at the Capitol.

Thanks for being a part of Hiatus! Here’s what’s new in the world since last week.

Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated by a group of armed men, allegedly including American and Colombian citizens, who raided his home at night. The country is in a state of chaos, and some members of the government have asked the United States to help restore order after days of violence. An election was planned for September, but it’s not yet clear who’ll take over in the interim, or if that election will take place as planned.

The country has struggled for decades with corruption (including moves by the late president that were described as anti-democratic by critics), as well as natural disasters, drug trafficking and organized crime.

Covid cases are rising in the U.S. and U.K. as the more-infective Delta variant continues to spread. Research from Israel has indicated that the Pfizer vaccine is less effective against the Delta variant, although the vaccine still provides more than 90 percent protection against severe illness.

Pfizer has suggested that a third booster shot might be needed later this year to protect against the Delta variant.

The CDC is recommending that schools stay open this fall, regardless of whether cases are rising in the surrounding community. The CDC has said that vaccinated teachers and students can safely go to school without masks. These recommendations are non-binding, and the ultimate decisions will be made by states and local authorities.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order that will change economic rules to promote competition and counteract the near-monopoly status of many of America’s largest corporations.

Through the Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Justice and other agencies, the president has broad authority to set goals and policies that can affect how companies do business and whether companies are allowed to merge. Here’s an excerpt from the White House’s list of goals for the new policies:

  • “Make it easier to change jobs and help raise wages by banning or limiting non-compete agreements and unnecessary, cumbersome occupational licensing requirements that impede economic mobility.

  • Lower prescription drug prices by supporting state and tribal programs that will import safe and cheaper drugs from Canada.

  • Save Americans money on their internet bills by banning excessive early termination fees, requiring clear disclosure of plan costs to facilitate comparison shopping, and ending landlord exclusivity arrangements that stick tenants with only a single internet option.

  • Make it easier for people to get refunds from airlines and to comparison shop for flights by requiring clear upfront disclosure of add-on fees.

  • Make it easier and cheaper to switch banks by requiring banks to allow customers to take their financial transaction data with them to a competitor.”

Hurricane Elsa swept across the Caribbean and the East Coast of the U.S, bringing flooding and extreme winds to Barbados, Jamaica, Cuba and Florida. At least three people were killed in the Caribbean and one in Florida.

No spectators will be allowed at the Olympics in Japan, which starts later this month. The Japanese government made the decision after a rise in Covid infections. Japan remains well below the American case rate, but only about 28 percent of its residents have been vaccinated, much lower than in the U.S.

American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was removed from the team because she ate a THC edible, which was legal in Oregon but against the Olympic team’s drug rules. Last month, conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas criticized the confusing status of cannabis legalization in the United States, writing:

“Once comprehensive, the Federal Govern­ment’s current approach is a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana. This contradictory and unstable state of affairs strains basic principles of federalism and conceals traps for the un­wary.”

The search for survivors of the condo building collapse in Surfside, Florida, has ended. So far, 86 people have been confirmed dead and 43 people are still unaccounted for.

The Pentagon cancelled a $10 billion software contract that had been awarded to Microsoft. Amazon, the next biggest competitor for the contract, had claimed that President Trump had a bias against the company’s owner, Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post.

Side note: The contract, which aimed to modernize the Defense Department’s IT system, was nicknamed the “JEDI” project… so hopefully this gives them an opportunity to choose a less ridiculous name next time.

In Washington, D.C., the final segments of fencing around the Capitol Building have been taken down. It’s been six months since the fencing was added in response to the January 6 Capitol riot.

The city of Charlottesville, Virginia, has removed the Robert E. Lee statue that was the centerpiece of the deadly white-supremacist demonstration in 2017. The man who murdered a woman by ramming a car into a group of anti-racist counter-demonstrators is now serving a life sentence in prison.

In the NBA Finals, the Phoenix Suns lead the Milwaukee Bucks, 2 games to 0, in a 7-game series.

Until next time, enjoy your Hiatus.