Local Florida leaders eye ways to take on DeSantis’ anti-mask stance

With Florida at the forefront of the nation's COVID surge, local governments across Tampa Bay are wondering if — or how — they can subvert Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration to do something to slow the spread.

Why it matters: A day after Florida broke its record for daily cases, it did the same for the total number of COVID hospitalizations — set way back in July 2020, per the AP.

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  • It's clear DeSantis won't budge on bringing masks back. He banned mandates in schools last week and blocked local governments from requiring them in May.

  • His spokesperson said that “there is no reason to believe that a mask mandate would prevent a case increase,” Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau.

  • Black man reportedly assaulted by white men at Indiana lake faces criminal charges

    A Black man who said a group of white men assaulted him and threatened to “get a noose” at a southern Indiana lake is facing criminal charges more than a year after the confrontation that earlier led to charges against two of the alleged attackers.

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    2 travelers who used fake vaccine cards to enter Canada from U.S. fined nearly $16,000

    Two airline passengers entering Canada from the United States were fined nearly $16,000 each for submitting fake vaccination cards and Covid-19 test results, officials said.

    The passengers also failed to stay at government-authorized accommodations, as is also required by the country’s government, Canada’s public health agency said Friday.

    The passengers, who were not identified in a news release, traveled to Toronto two weeks ago and were Canadian citizens, Health Canada spokeswoman Maryse Durette told NBC News. They mark the first case of travelers using fake vaccination documents to enter the country, Durette said.

    3 dead, 1 hurt in rural South Carolina shooting

    GREENWOOD, S.C. (AP) — Three people were killed and one other person was hurt in a shooting Monday in rural South Carolina, and deputies released the name and picture of a man they want to interview.

    The shooting happened around 3 p.m. at a Greenwood County home just off U.S. Highway 25 about 8 miles (13 kilometers) south of Greenwood, the Sheriffs Office said in a news release.

    Sheriff’s Office Maj. Cody Bishop confirmed the three killed in the shooting to The Index-Journal of Greenwood. He didn't give a motive for the shooting.

    White House says it has been unable to find way to extend eviction moratorium

    The White House said Monday that it was unable to find a legal means to extend the eviction moratorium, despite the fact that millions of Americans could soon lose their homes even as the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has “been unable to find legal authority for a new, targeted eviction moratorium,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “Our team is redoubling efforts to identify all available legal authorities to provide necessary protections.”

    Citing a Supreme Court decision issued in late June, the White House said it was unable to unilaterally extend the moratorium for evictions. Late last week, Psaki issued a statement pressuring Congress to act, but the House went into recess before a vote could be held. Were it to pass the House, it is unclear if an extension of the moratorium would be able to pass the Senate.

    ‘Who is it?’ Woman answering door shot 5 times in hail of 75 bullets, Illinois cops say

    A 58-year-old Illinois woman heard a knock at the door after midnight Monday, and when she went to answer it, she was greeted by a hail of bullets.

    ‘Who is it?’ the homeowner asked, approaching the door. Right after she called out to the mystery visitor, her front door exploded with gunfire, according to the Champaign Police Department.

    Suspects unloaded at least 75 rounds during the ambush. Nearby houses and vehicles were also struck by gunfire, police said.

    Kris Wu, arrested on suspicion of rape, faces LIFE imprisonment if convicted

    Chinese Canadian actor and singer Kris Wu was arrested on suspicion of rape weeks after a young woman came forward to accuse him of targeting herself and others. The allegations: In a statement on Saturday, police in Beijing’s Chaoyang District said they have detained the 30-year-old, whose real name is Wu Yifan, in response to reports that he “has repeatedly tricked young women into having sex” and “other related issues.”

  • The arrest comes a week after police revealed that Wu had lied about his relationship with teen influencer Du Meizhu, according to the South China Morning Post. Du, 18, first accused Wu of sexual misconduct on July 8, revealing screenshots of alleged conversations between them and people who supposedly worked for him.

  • Du claims that Wu invited her to a party at his home where she was pressured to consume alcohol. She allegedly lost consciousness and wound up in his bed the next morning.

  • Du said one of Wu’s associates offered her hush money. When she declined, she was allegedly threatened with a lawsuit. A sum of 500,000 yuan (about $77,000) was soon wired into her bank account. She has since returned the money in installments.

  • Du, who was 17 during the alleged incident, claims that Wu’s victims far exceed eight and that two of them are minors, according to the state-run Global Times. China’s age of consent is 14.

  • Reactions: Wu’s arrest is being lauded by #MeToo advocates, the Wall Street Journal noted. Since Du came forward, at least 24 more women have made allegations of inappropriate behavior, according to the BBC.

  • Du’s sister thanked the public after Wu’s arrest. “Only after having experienced hellish torture can we have the power to conquer heaven. Our efforts are not in vain. All the injustices we suffer will turn into motivation,” she said in a statement.

  • Lu Pin, a New York-based feminist activist, described Wu’s detention as a major step for China’s #MeToo movement. “Now with Wu Yifan, #MeToo has finally taken down someone with real power in China — it has shown that no matter how powerful you are, rape is not acceptable,” Lu told The New York Times.

  • If convicted, Wu faces imprisonment from 10 years up to life, the Global Times said in another article. He will be deported to Canada after serving his sentence, an attorney from the Beijing Lanpeng Law Firm told the outlet.

  • The former EXO member, an older Kpop group, has lost multiple endorsement deals — including Porsche and Bulgari — over the allegations and is suing Du for defamation. He rejects her claims and assured his fans, “There was no ‘underage’ [sex], if there was this kind of behavior, everyone please rest assured, I will go into prison myself!”

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    Black man assaulted at Indiana lake faces criminal charges

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A Black man who said a group of white men assaulted him and threatened to “get a noose” at a southern Indiana lake is facing criminal charges more than a year after the confrontation that earlier led to charges against two of the alleged attackers.

    Vauhxx Booker, a local civil rights activist and member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, was charged with misdemeanor trespass and felony battery for his involvement in last year’s Fourth of July incident at Lake Monroe, according to court documents filed Friday by a special prosecutor in the case.

    Booker condemned the decision, calling it an “outrageous act of punitive retaliation and prosecutorial vindictiveness.” The Monroe County Branch of the NAACP demanded that the charges against Booker be dropped immediately and called for the special prosecutor, Sonia Leerkamp, to resign.

    “This incident has been a continual case of a victim being re-victimized by the system,” Booker’s legal team said in statement Monday. “It is the victim in this assault – Vauhxx Booker — who is being made to pay for having stood his ground against malicious racist name-calling, physical assault, and threats against his life.”

    The alleged assault gained national attention last summer when Booker said he called 911 after five men assaulted him and pinned him to a tree at the lake just south of Bloomington. He said the men accused him of trespassing on private property and, after he tried to apologize, the situation got physical.

    Booker said the men threatened to break his arms and said, “get a noose,” while telling his friends to leave the area. He said one of the men wore a hat decorated with a Confederate flag and that the men made statements about “white power.”

    Witnesses who were with Booker that day said they heard racial slurs being shouted and that someone said “get a noose” and “leave the boy here, we will take care of him.” Cellphone video posted on Facebook that showed part of the altercation was viewed millions of times online.

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    Hearing begins for lawmaker who shared rape accuser’s name

    BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho lawmaker accused of violating ethics rules by publicizing the name of an alleged rape victim in disparaging social media posts — and then allegedly misleading lawmakers about her actions — said in an ethics hearing Monday that she did nothing wrong and claimed the allegations against her were politically motivated.

    Republican Rep. Priscilla Giddings became the subject of two ethics complaints by about two dozen lawmakers after she publicized the rape accuser’s name, photo and personal details about her life in April by sharing links to an far-right news article on social media and in a newsletter to constituents.

    The Legislature's ethics committee scheduled the public hearing after finding probable cause that Giddings engaged in “conduct unbecoming a representative, which is detrimental to the integrity of the House as a legislative body.”

    18 percent of Americans say they would quit their job over vaccine, mask mandates

    Employed Americans said they are most likely to quit a job immediately if faced with COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask mandates, a new Morning Consult poll reveals.

    When asked to describe something their employer could do to make them submit their resignation on the spot, 18 percent of respondents mentioned “vaccine, mask, or testing requirements,” even without Morning Consult having mentioned COVID-19 in the prompt. The second-most cited reason was pay cuts — 14 percent of respondents said they would quit if their employer reduced their salary “for no good cause or reason.”

    DC mayor pushes back after conservative media slams her for not wearing mask at wedding

    Photos of a maskless Muriel Bowser, her office said, were taken “during the indoor dinner, when she was eating or drinking.”

    Muriel Bowser, the Democratic mayor of Washington, D.C., is pushing back against conservative media slamming her for going maskless at a wedding this weekend after her office reinstated an indoor mask mandate in the wake of rising coronavirus cases due to the delta variant.

    “If Mayor Bowser was photographed indoors without a mask, it was during the indoor dinner, when she was eating or drinking,” the mayor’s office told WTOP in a statement.

    Deadly shooting at water park followed an escalating ‘altercation,’ Tennessee cops say

    One woman is dead and another injured after gunfire erupted outside a Tennessee water park over the weekend, officials said.

    The shooting followed an escalating “altercation” at Soaky Mountain Waterpark in Sevierville, according to a preliminary police investigation. The 50-acre tourist attraction is near the vacation destinations of Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

    At about 8 p.m. Saturday, the Sevierville Police Department said it received a call about shots fired in Soaky Mountain’s parking lot. That’s where they found two women who had been shot, identified as Kelsy Cook, 24, and Angie Russell, 23.

    Three numbers tell the tale of the upcoming California recall

    WASHINGTON — With the California gubernatorial recall 43 days away and with ballots about to be mailed to voters later this month, there are three numbers you need to know to understand this race.

    36 percent: That’s the percentage of registered voters in California who said they’d vote to support the recall of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, per last week’s LA Times/Berkeley IGS poll.

    If that 36 percent looks familiar, well, it’s the exact same percentage of registered voters who backed the recall in April and January, per the same poll, suggesting a limited ceiling of recall supporters in the state.