No Spectators At Olympics, National Wildfire Risk, Haiti's Future: News You Need To Start Your Day

Published July 7, 2021 at 11:02 AM EDT
Rescue workers with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue embrace near the memorial site for victims of the collapsed condo building, after a moment of silence on Wednesday.
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Rescue workers with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue embrace after a moment of silence on Wednesday, near the memorial site for victims of the collapsed condo building.

Good morning. We're following all of the developments from Haiti and tracking a number of other important stories for you. Here's what we're watching:

  • Hours after Haiti's president was assassinated, police killed four suspects in a gun battle and arrested two others.
  • More and more people are moving to wildfire-prone areas in the Southeast of the U.S. without realizing the dangers.
  • Two weeks before the start of the Olympics, Japan's prime minister has declared a COVID state of emergency. The organizers have announced that there will be no spectators at any of the games' venues.
  • The lions, tigers and bears at Oakland Zoo are getting their COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • On today's 🎧 Up First, our daily news podcast, an update from Surfside, Fla., where officials have ended the search for survivors after nearly two weeks.

— The Morning Edition live blog team
Emily Alfin Johnson, Rachel Treisman and William Jones

Just In

Japan Declares A State Of Emergency Before Olympics, And Bans Spectators

Updated July 8, 2021 at 9:35 AM EDT
Posted July 8, 2021 at 7:24 AM EDT
The Tokyo 2020 logo is displayed near Odaiba Seaside Park in Tokyo. Japan's government has imposed a COVID-19 state of emergency in Tokyo just two weeks before the start of the Olympics.
KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images
The Tokyo 2020 logo is displayed near Odaiba Seaside Park in Tokyo. Japan's government has imposed a COVID-19 state of emergency in Tokyo just two weeks before the start of the Olympics.

Olympic organizers have announced that there will be no spectators at any of the games' venues in Tokyo. Overseas spectators were already barred from the games. The Olympics start on July 23.

The decision comes after Japan announced a new state of emergency that will remain in place for the duration of the Tokyo Olympics. It will begin next Monday and, barring an improvement in the pandemic situation, last until Aug. 22.

At a press conference after the decision, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga apologized to citizens for having to impose a fresh state of emergency, just three weeks after an earlier emergency was lifted.

Since then, Tokyo has been under a looser, quasi-emergency, which has been unable to stop a fifth wave of infections from surging in the region.

Japanese residents have been unnerved by several cases of Olympic athletes arriving in Japan and testing positive for the coronavirus, some carrying the delta variant and some of them made it past border controls.

Japan lags behind other developed economies in vaccinations. After a brief surge in vaccinations last month, the pace has recently slackened, as vaccine supplies run low.


Former South African President Jacob Zuma, Charged With Contempt Of Court, Has Turned Himself In

Posted July 8, 2021 at 9:50 AM EDT
Former South African President Jacob Zuma speaks at a podium, with the country's flag behind him.
Phill Magakoe/AFP via Getty Images
Former South African President Jacob Zuma, pictured giving his resignation speech in 2018, turned himself in to authorities days after being charged with contempt of court.

Jacob Zuma, the former president of South Africa, handed himself over to authorities last night to start a 15-month jail term.

Let's back up: Last week, South Africa's Constitutional Court found Zuma guilty of contempt and sentenced him to jail for refusing to appear before a commission investigating corruption during his presidency, which ran from 2009 to 2018.

They ordered Zuma to turn himself in within five days, and ordered police to arrest him if he failed to do so.

Zuma has accused the chairperson of the commission of being biased against him, and said in a publicly-released letter that the evidence presented against him was politically motivated.

As Ish Mafundikwa reports from Harare, some South Africans are hailing Zuma's jailing as a triumph for the rule of law, while his supporters — thousands of whom converged on his rural home to show their support last weekend — agree with his claim that he is the victim of a political and judicial conspiracy.


Oil Prices Could Either Spike Or Plunge Soon. Here's Why

Posted July 8, 2021 at 8:54 AM EDT
Cars line up on a three-lane highway of standstill traffic, framed by orange cones.
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It's summer driving season, and oil prices are in turmoil.

If you've been taking road trips or even running errands recently, you may have noticed that gas is getting expensive lately.

Demand for fuel tanked during the pandemic, but is on the rise as the U.S. and other parts of the world reopen for business, driving crude oil prices up.

So where are the prices going next?

Analysts had been expecting them to either stabilize or rise gradually — until a routine OPEC+ meeting went off the rails. NPR's Camila Domonoske breaks down the drama and what it means for you at the pump.

The Animal Kingdom

Lions, Tigers, Bears And Even A Ferret Are Getting Their COVID-19 Vaccinations

Posted July 8, 2021 at 8:39 AM EDT
Visitors view grizzly bears in their enclosure at the Oakland Zoo. Those bears are among the animals at the zoo that are getting their COVID-19 vaccinations.
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Visitors view grizzly bears in their enclosure at the Oakland Zoo. The bears and other animals at the zoo are getting their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Three mountain lions, two tigers and two grizzly bears were the first animals at the Oakland Zoo to be vaccinated for the coronavirus.

"Oh! Archie the ferret," adds Dr. Alex Herman, vice president of veterinary services at the zoo. "I forgot about him. He's on the list too."

Herman says it has been a lot of work keeping the Oakland Zoo's animals safe from COVID-19. So far, none of them have contracted the coronavirus.

"All keepers [are wearing] PPE (personal protective equipment)," she told NPR's Morning Edition. Plus, "really strict protocols for hand washing and food preparation."

Documented cases have alerted zoos to the potential for some animals to contract the virus and become sick. Two gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park got it. As did Nadia, a Malaysian tiger, at the Bronx Zoo. And in Denmark, the government culled millions of mink.

The Oakland Zoo applied to get an experimental vaccine from Zoetis, a veterinary pharmaceutical company giving more than 11,000 doses to dozens of zoos.

"We have really big responsibility to be stewards of these beautiful animals, and certainly the evidence shows the benefit far outweighs the risks,” Herman said.

The zoo is relying on its prior training with the animals to get them to accept the shots.

“Basically, they [veterinary nurses] train the tiger to lay against the chain link fence, and then one animal care person will squirt goat's milk — I think, is the real treat for the tigers — in their mouth, while the other people give them an injection.”

So what’s a black bear’s favorite treat?🎧You can find out by listening here.

Florida Condo Collapse

The Search For Survivors Of The Collapsed Condo In Florida Is Over. What Happens Now?

Updated July 8, 2021 at 10:58 AM EDT
Posted July 8, 2021 at 8:47 AM EDT
First responders hang a banner that says "Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Mourns With You" on a chain-link fence covered in flowers, posters and photographs.
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First responders place a banner in the memorial to the victims of the Champlain Towers South condo collapse on Thursday, as search and recovery efforts transitioned into a recovery operation.

Authorities in Surfside, Fla., last night called off the search for survivors of the collapsed condominium after two weeks — meaning crews will now focus their efforts on recovering victims' remains.

The death toll increased today to 60, and 80 people are still believed missing.

Last night's announcement was met with a moment of silence by those in attendance, before first responders, clergy and some family members came together for an impromptu ceremony. People like Martin Langesveld, who lost his sister and brother-in-law in the collapse, thanked rescue crews for their work.

"The first responders and everyone who stood behind us put their blood and their heart and their souls behind this, and we were together as a community," Langesveld said. "I want to truly say thank you. We didn't get the outcome we wanted, but we did become a family."

As NPR's Brian Mann reports from Miami Beach, the announcement was emotional, but not necessarily a surprise.

  • Why now? Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said that teams had done everything possible to find survivors, but "at this point, we have truly exhausted every option available to us in the search and rescue mission."
  • How come? While many family members were still hoping for a miracle, officials had been informed for days that hopes were fading. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Ray Jadallah explained that there were no voids in the rubble in which people might have survived, and no signs of life since the first hours after the collapse.
  • What's next? Crews are still working around the clock to find victims and return their remains to their loved ones. Crime scene investigators are working with local religious leaders to confirm their identities.

Want To Work Fewer Hours For The Same Pay? Check Out This Icelandic Study

Posted July 8, 2021 at 9:41 AM EDT

In this era of remote and flexible work arrangements, many of us are thinking about what we'd like our workdays to look like. What if they were shorter?

During four years of trials in Iceland, thousands of workers in both public and private-sector jobs went from a 40-hour week to working 35 or 36 hours without a pay reduction.

Researchers found that working fewer hours for the same pay boosted well-being among workers, with no loss in productivity. In fact, some people were even more productive after scaling back their hours.

NPR's Andrea Hsu has this great story on what to make of the study's findings.


What's Next For Haiti After The Assassination Of Its President

Posted July 8, 2021 at 7:29 AM EDT
An armored vehicle blocks a palm tree-lined street leading to the presidential residence in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with colorful homes visible on a hill in the distance.
Valerie Baeriswyl /AFP via Getty Images
Military and security personnel blocked the street leading to the presidential residence in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Wednesday, after President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated and his wife was injured in an early-morning attack on their home.

It's been just over a day since gunmen entered the home of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse — killing him, wounding his wife and throwing a country already beset by instability into further turmoil.

The first lady is being treated in a Miami hospital. And authorities said last night that police fatally shot four of the suspected killers in a gun battle and arrested two others.

NPR's Carrie Kahn brings us up to speed and takes a look at what lies ahead (listen here):

Who are the suspected assassins? Authorities referred to the suspects as "mercenaries." Reports have described them as professional hitmen who spoke English and Spanish, and Haiti's ambassador to the U.S. told reporters that they had disguised themselves as U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents.

Who is in charge right now? It appears that Prime Minister Claude Joseph will lead the country for now, remaining in his role even though he has been holding it on an interim basis. He was actually supposed to be replaced yesterday by Moïse's new pick.

What's the scene like in Haiti? The streets were mostly calm in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, but local reports noted sporadic gunfire and roadblocks, including when the president's body was en route to the morgue. Haiti is now under martial law, and its international airport and border with the Dominican Republic are closed.

How is the international community responding? There has been widespread condemnation from across the Western Hemisphere. President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have said the U.S. is ready to assist Haiti as needed.

What were conditions like in Haiti before the assassination? The country was already dealing with its share of problems, including skyrocketing gang violence and kidnappings, food and fuel shortages and rising COVID-19 cases in the absence of a significant vaccination program.

Plus: Garry Pierre-Pierre, editor-in-chief of the U.S.-based newspaper The Haitian Times, spoke to NPR's Leila Fadel about Haiti's reaction to the assassination and how it might move forward. Listen to that here.

Must Listen
Climate Change

More People Are Moving To Fire-Prone Land Without Realizing The Risk

Posted July 8, 2021 at 7:05 AM EDT
Tate City, Georgia residents Phil Harrison (left), 80, and Miriam Harrison (right), 72, pose for a portrait at Tate City Community Building on May 11, 2021. Photo by Arvin Temkar.
Arvin Temkar for NPR
Tate City, Georgia residents Phil Harrison (left), 80, and Miriam Harrison (right), 72, pose for a portrait at Tate City Community Building on May 11, 2021.

The West is bracing for another ugly wildfire season, but many people don't realize that the threat exists all across the country. Nearly all of the United States evolved with fire, and the warming climate is amplifying the risk.

As Molly Samuel of member station WABE reports, more and more people are moving to wildfire-prone land, often without realizing the danger.

The Southeast actually has the most wildfires every year. It's just that they're typically smaller, and they get put out faster. But climate change, with higher temperatures and more severe droughts, is expected to lead to even more frequent and intense fires.

The area known as the "wildland-urban interface," where development and wild places meet, is the fastest growing land-use type in the country. Tens of millions of people — or one in three homes — now live in these areas, and most of the new homes being built in these areas are located in the Southeast.

Samuel talked to homeowners who live in these areas about what folks can do to protect their homes and what you should consider before relocating. 🎧 Take a listen.

Just In

Rudy Giuliani Can No Longer Practice Law In D.C.

Posted July 8, 2021 at 7:37 AM EDT
Rudy Giuliani Speaks Into A Microphone
Mary Altaffer/AP
Rudy Giuliani speaks during a campaign event in New York for Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa in June 2021.

Add the nation's capital to the list of places Rudy Giuliani is banned from doing his job.

A Washington D.C. court suspended his law license just weeks after New York did the same. The D.C. appeals court said Giuliani's license would remain suspended pending the resolution of the New York case.

Both of the former lawyer to President Trump's suspensions stem from his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Giuliani made repeated, baseless claims that the election had been stolen in order to undo President Biden's victory.

In a 33-page decision released last month, a New York state appellate court said there was "uncontroverted evidence" that Giuliani "communicated demonstrably false and misleading statement to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer" for Trump and his campaign "in connection with Trump's failed effort at reelection in 2020."

Giuliani hasn't made a public statement in response to his suspension in D.C., but he did retweet a post on Twitter criticizing the temporary suspension as "just another gross miscarriage of Justice."


They Produced Legends Like Janet Jackson And George Michael. Now They Have Their Own Album

Posted July 8, 2021 at 8:09 AM EDT

It's not often you get a debut album from artists with more than 100 gold, platinum, multi-platinum and diamond albums already under their belts. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are doing just that: Their first album "Jam & Lewis, Volume One" drops Friday.

In the mid-1980s, Jam and Lewis were approached by A&M Records. They'd been in the Prince-produced band The Time, and A&M wanted some of that "Minneapolis sound" for themselves. They asked if Jam and Lewis wanted to produce anyone on the record company's roster.

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis stand after being acknowledged by inductee Janet Jackson during the 2019 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images For The Rock and Ro
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Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis stand after being acknowledged by inductee Janet Jackson during the 2019 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Jam and Lewis picked Janet Jackson. That partnership yielded six #1 albums and three Grammys.

At the time, Jam and Lewis had been working on their own album, but when Janet Jackson heard a demo of their song, "What Have You Done for Me Lately," she chose it for her own record. It became a worldwide hit, and turned Jam and Lewis from an aspiring recording duo to the most in-demand producers in pop music.

"It was the song that launched her career basically and ended ours ⁠— at least as artists," Jimmy Jam told NPR's Rachel Martin.

Now, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis finally have an album with their names on the front instead of the back. But they're not entirely on their own: "Jam & Lewis, Volume One" boasts a number of legendary guest singers including Mariah Carey and Babyface.

Jam & Lewis x Babyface - He Don't Know Nothin' Bout It (Official Video)

"Overall we call the sound of the album ‘New-Stalgia,'" Jam says. "It's the idea of hearing something new and the excitement that comes from hearing something new; but also that very familiar, comfortable moment that takes you back to a really nice place is also cool."

Gun Violence

The Link Between Anger And Mass Shootings Is Giving Some Researchers Hope

Posted July 8, 2021 at 9:09 AM EDT

More than 350 Americans have been killed in mass shootings so far this year, and overall gun violence has claimed the lives of more than 8,000 Americans. More than 180 people were killed in shootings across the country over the weekend of July 4th alone.

While gun control advocates say there are many possible solutions, including expanding background checks and "red flag laws," a group of social scientists is exploring another idea.

What if one key to preventing mass shootings is flagging extreme anger before it turns into violence?

🎧 NPR’s Eric Westervelt has the story.

Clinical psychologist Ephrem Fernandez analyzed more than 130 mass shootings in the U.S. from 2000 to 2015. He found that most were not random; in fact, many involved intense anger. And in many cases where a person’s rage turns violent, they tend to give off warning signs like purchasing weapons or making concerning comments.

Fernandez says these could be warning signs of a threat, but also signs that an individual needs help.

"We are so afraid of anger because of its potential destructiveness, the fact that anger is often the harbinger of aggression, if not violence. And therefore we have stigmatized it so much that people are scared to disclose how angry they really are."
⁠— Ephrem Fernandez, clinical psychologist

That brought to mind another resource for those in need: suicide hotlines.

Studies show that suicide hotlines, when properly staffed and operated, can help stop people from acting on suicidal ideations. Could a similar model help those with homicidal ideations too?

Fernandez says that's the "million dollar question." So he and his colleagues at the University of Texas San Antonio are exploring it, starting with an online anger regulation study.

There’s a lot of work to be done to translate their research into real-world solutions, but Fernandez is optimistic.

Before You Go
Fierce Competition

The Scripps Spelling Bee Is Back

Posted July 8, 2021 at 10:54 AM EDT

We'll leave you with this buzzy news:

It started with more than 200 of the country's best spellers. It ends tonight, with 11 young scholars facing off at the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals in Orlando, Fla.

As NPR's Alana Wise reports, the bee is back after the pandemic cut it short last year. Plus, First Lady Jill Biden — herself a proud educator — will be there. So no pressure, right?

You can catch it on ESPN2 starting at 8 p.m. ET.