After Florida building collapse, developer with Trump ties sees opportunity

MIAMI — In the rubble of one of the deadliest building failures in modern history, Hussain Sajwani sees opportunity — a prime beachfront property that could become home to the billionaire Middle East developer’s first project on American soil. Sajwani, a friend and business partner of Donald Trump known for flashy towers in his native Dubai, has visions of erecting an ultra-luxury condo building in Surfside where Champlain Towers South once stood, a spokesman for his company, DAMAC Properties, confirmed Tuesday. His $120 million bid for the land, one of several competing offers expected to com...

Miami Democrat Annette Taddeo launches campaign to be Florida’s first Latina governor

MIAMI — After months of open speculation and exploratory meetings around the state, Miami state Sen. Annette Taddeo is making it official: she is running to be Florida’s next governor. Taddeo, 54, filed campaign documents with Florida’s Division of Elections on Monday morning. Her entry shakes up a Democratic field that has been so far dominated by two front-runners — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried — as they vie to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022. “We need a governor who will actually govern,” Taddeo told the Herald in an interview last week. “We c...

Jay-Z group files complaint against Miami-Dade Animal Services — alleging it ignored abuser

MIAMI — Jay-Z’s Team ROC social justice group has filed a complaint in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against the county’s Animal Services Department, alleging it has failed to take action against a resident it accuses of abusing animals. The complaint, filed Sept. 30 against the department as well as Interim Director Lorna Mejia and Enforcement Supervisor Sean Gallagher, asks the court to order the agency to properly fulfill its duties. The complaint alleges Miami-Dade resident Christian Souto has been “abusing his dogs and has posted a video of himself threatening people who have witnessed and com...

2 tourists got Legionnaires’ Disease after staying at a Florida Keys resort, lawyers say

MIAMI — When Marcia Blanar stayed at Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys during the summer, a decorative fountain surrounded by benches “was raging with active Legionella,” according to a lawsuit filed on her behalf earlier this month in Monroe County Circuit Court. Legionella, a type of bacteria, can cause Legionnaires’ Disease. The disease can cause a severe lung infection and is contracted by breathing in infected water, such as a spray of water. Blanar, of Maryland, “developed a fever and uncharacteristic fatigue,” upon returning from her vacation, her attorney Ira Leesfield wrote in the ...

Cuban authorities recycle video of Fidel Castro to attack organizers of opposition march

The Cuban government is using a 30-year-old video of Fidel Castro to attack a group of activists who have called for a peaceful march in November in solidarity with political prisoners, a gesture authorities have called a provocation orchestrated by the United States to destabilize the country. After notifying its organizers on Tuesday that the motives for the march were “illegal,” the island’s government has launched a propaganda campaign on state news outlets and social media to portray the activists as agents in the service of the U.S. “We are not going to give guarantees to the counterrevo...

Miami decides to fire police Chief Art Acevedo and end a tumultuous but short tenure

MIAMI — City Manager Art Noriega suspended embattled Miami police Chief Art Acevedo on Monday with the intention of firing him — ending weeks of speculation and tumult at Miami City Hall and after a pair of circus-like public hearings last week in which commissioners repeatedly lashed out at the chief over a series of controversial moves and blunders. The suspension came two weeks after Acevedo inflamed the city’s majority Cuban American commission by accusing them of interfering with police investigations and comparing their actions to Communist Cuba. Though spokeswoman Stephanie Severino, No...

Panama Papers put one company out of business -- but the rich and powerful weren’t deterred

The Panama Papers blew open the hidden world of offshore finance and took down several world leaders. As a result of the massive leak of corporate records, multiple governments, including the United States, pledged greater oversight of the world of shell companies. The stories also signaled the end of Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm whose records were published in the Miami Herald and other news outlets. But for many other offshore service providers, it was an opportunity to harvest more business. One of them was Trident Trust, which has offices around the world, including in Miami an...

The Coast Guard returned 199 Haitians to Haiti. More than 1,500 intercepted in the last year

More Haitian migrants were halted at sea in the fiscal year that ended Thursday than the previous two years combined, the U.S. Coast Guard said. The 199 migrants returned to Haitian law enforcement in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Saturday put the total for the fiscal year that ran from Oct. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30 at 1,527. After Coast Guard Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry spotted them, the Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber stopped the 199 migrants on what the USCG described as an “grossly overloaded” 50-foot freighter around 2:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon southeast of Pointe de la Plateforme....

Miami mayoral candidate Pichel arrested in Florida Keys -- and charged with impersonating officer

MIAMI — Frank Pichel, a controversial candidate for mayor of the city of Miami, was arrested by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office early Friday morning on a felony charge of impersonating a police officer. According to the sheriff’s office, he was booked into county jail at midnight. He was released about two hours later after posting a $5,000 bond. His attorney, Matthew Baldwin, was not immediately available for comment. Pichel, 59, is accused of flashing a badge and claiming to be a Monroe deputy while he was sitting in a parked in a BMW in front of a house in a Key Largo subdivision May 30....

Coast Guard stops boat off Dominican Republic with 250 kilos of cocaine

MIAMI — U.S. Coast Guard crews based in Key West stopped a speedboat off the Dominican Republic last week that the agency said was hauling 10 bales of cocaine. The total weight of the drugs was around 250 kilograms with a wholesale value of about $7.5 million, according to a Coast Guard press release issued Monday. The 25-foot boat was about 145 nautical miles south of Hispaniola last Wednesday when a U.S. law enforcement aircraft detected the vessel and radioed the Coast Guard Cutter Kathleen Moore to intercept it. Along with the drugs, the crew of the cutter and a smaller Coast Guard patrol ...

Cuban artist freed from jail, forced into exile. Other protesters face harsh sentences

Cuban artist Hamlet Lavastida, whom Cuba’s state security held prisoner since June, was released this weekend but forced into exile with his partner, writer Katherine Bisquet, another prominent leader of the island artists’ pro-democracy movement. Another 500-plus Cubans are still under detention in connection with the widespread anti-government protests that shook the Caribbean nation on July 11. Some are facing harsh sentences that could lock them up for several years. “Cuban State Security imposed exile on both of us as the only option for Hamlet’s release,” Bisquet wrote in a statement pub...

Miami police chief compares actions of some commissioners to Cuba’s Communist regime

On the eve of an emergency commission meeting that threatens to shorten his already brief tenure in Miami, Police Chief Art Acevedo broke a brief silence and penned a scathing eight-page memo that is likely to play a big part in Monday’s showdown. The chief, sworn in only last April — and who has spoken very little publicly since Monday’s meeting was set to address a litany of issues with his performance — wrote that the majority of commissioners were interfering with an internal investigation into a well-liked Sergeant-At-Arms he relieved of duty. He also said that a second-in-command post he...

Americans are out, Russians are in: Cuba’s tourism is severely disrupted by pandemic

Americans in Cuba are almost a relic of the past, and the flock of Canadian tourists that used to fill the island’s hotels every year is nowhere to be found since the COVID-19 pandemic halted almost all tourism to the Caribbean island, with one exception: Russian visitors. Between January and July, Russian tourism grew 42% compared to the same period last year, according to data released by the Cuban government’s national office of statistics. Around 90,000 Russians traveled to the island on flights landing directly in resort destinations like Varadero and the keys near Ciego de Ávila. But tha...

Parents say toddler was sexually assaulted by another child on Disney cruise, sue for $20 million

MIAMI — A Vermont family who says their 3-year-old daughter was molested by another child while attending the youth club aboard a Disney Cruise Line ship last year is suing the cruise line for $20 million, according to the suit filed Friday in the federal court in Orlando. Attorney Michael Winkleman, of the Miami-Based maritime law firm Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman said Friday that the incident was captured on surveillance video and clearly shows a child — who is believed to be around 10 years old — assaulting the 3 year old. “This is a parent’s worst nightmare,” Winkleman said. “Any ...

‘Cuban’ beer is being sold in Miami. Is it a communist invasion or clever capitalismo?

MIAMI — Tony Haber had grabbed a six-pack of Mi Cristal beer at a Latin grocery store in Miami when an older customer in line pointed at his purchase and scolded him. The beer in his hand, Mi Cristal, was owned by the Cuban government, the man insisted. And he yelled at Haber with increasing ferocity that he was propping up Cuba’s communist regime with his purchase. Customers turned to watch. The cashier froze. Haber had no choice but to leave the beer and hurry out of the store. He did it even though he knew something the customer didn’t: The beer he was buying was his own. Haber is the owner...

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