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After tragedy, Surfside mayor comforts families, stokes feuds and floats a conspiracy

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Charles Burkett wants to know why.

Why did half of Champlain Towers South crumble on June 24?

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett visited the Surfside Wall of Hope & Memorial as rescue teams continued their recovery mission at the collapsed Champlain Towers South site on July 16. MATIAS J. OCNER MOCNER@MIAMIHERALD.COM

Why did the deadliest residential building failure in modern U.S. history happen in his small town?

Why can’t anyone answer those questions yet?

Burkett (left, wearing baseball cap) attends a meeting with President Joe Biden at the St. Regis Hotel on July 1, 2021. Al Diaz ADIAZ@MIAMIHERALD.COM

This summer, the Surfside mayor found an enticing possibility: a debunked conspiracy theory that sought to connect the June 23 death in a Spanish prison of antivirus software entrepreneur John McAfee with the Surfside building collapse.

At the heart of the theory, which assumes the building was deliberately brought down, is a screenshot of a (likely fake) tweet suggesting McAfee was storing data near the tower and an online post suggesting McAfee owned a unit in the building (which he didn’t).

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett (center) joined families of Surfside collapse victims as they held a press conference Sept. 23 at the site of the Champlain Towers South collapse to call for a memorial to be constructed where 98 victims died. Pedro Portal PPORTAL@MIAMIHERALD.COM

Never mind that federal authorities said early on that there was no evidence terrorism played a role in the collapse.

Charles Burkett with Michael Jackson in the early 1980s. Burkett, now the Surfside mayor, says he taught Jackson to water ski when Burkett was living at his grandmother’s mansion in Miami Beach. COURTESY OF CHARLES BURKETT

Burkett’s interest was piqued.

Surfside Commissioner Eliana Salzhauer gives the middle finger to Mayor Charles Burkett during a virtual meeting on June 9, 2020.

So he texted Town Manager Andrew Hyatt in early August, suggesting Surfside police look into whether the tweet was real.

On July 11, 2021, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett speaks at a news conference regarding the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo. CARL JUSTE CJUSTE@MIAMIHERALD.COM

Read more from the Miami Herald.

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New January 6 footage shows police opening doors of U.S. Capitol to peaceful protesters, not ‘rioters’ as previously reported by media

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Newly released January 6 footage shows police letting peaceful pro-Trump supporters enter the United States Capitol without incident, directly contradicting government and media allegations of how law enforcement was overwhelmed by an unruly mob.

The footage, that the Department of Justice (DOJ) fought to keep hidden, captured activity by two security cameras – that face opposite directions – in a small hallway on the upper west side terrace from 2:25 pm to around 3:00 pm.

The full two 40 minute videos were originally posted on BuzzFeed Monday morning.

This footage is just a small fragment of the 14,000 hours of surveillance that Joe Biden’s DOJ are fighting to keep hidden, Julie Kelly of American Greatness reports:

The footage, a slice of the 14,000 hours of surveillance video that the Justice Department and Capitol Police want kept under strict protective orders, clearly contradicts many of the government’s allegations about what happened on January 6. Hundreds of January 6 defendants have been charged with trespassing or “parading” in the Capitol when this video clearly proves law enforcement held open doors and did not stop protesters from coming inside.

This story is developing. More new security footage will be added here at the Miami Standard.

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FBI in Haiti after 16 American missionaries visiting an orphanage kidnapped by gang

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The abduction of 16 American missionaries and one Canadian in Haiti by a notorious armed gang known for extorting businesses and ransoming kidnapped victims catapulted the Caribbean nation’s insecurity crisis into the global spotlight Sunday as FBI agents arrived in Port-au-Prince to help with negotiations to liberate the hostages.

FBI agents arrived on an aircraft chartered by the U.S. government hours after reports confirmed that 17 Christian missionaries including five children had been taken hostage Saturday in the area of La Tremblay in Ganthier, just east of the capital.

A group of American missionaries have been kidnapped in Haiti, allegedly by the same gang that kidnapped a group of Catholic clergy in April of this year.

A State Department official, confirming the kidnappings, said the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State.

“We have been in regular contact with senior Haitian authorities and will continue to work with them and interagency partners,” the official added.

Read more from the Miami Herald.

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‘Money plays a big part’: Audio reveals Miami Beach mayor, developers planning re-do of Ocean Drive

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MIAMI BEACH, Fla.  Miami Beach voters are being asked to stop alcohol sales at 2 a.m. instead of 5 a.m.

Proponents of the measure backed by Mayor Dan Gelber link the three-hour rollback with stopping crime and chaos on South Beach.

But, in a private Zoom call last month, Gelber met with developers to court their support for a wholesale re-do of Ocean Drive and the entertainment district.

Spearheading the meeting and solicitations for money was former Miami Beach mayor and businessman Philip Levine.

Read more from ABC Miami.

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