Nation and world news briefs

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US sanctions powerful Cuban general and former son-in-law of Raúl Castro

The United States on Wednesday sanctioned Gen. Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja, the former son-in-law of Cuban leader Raúl Castro who manages most of the Cuban economy as head of the powerful conglomerate of military companies GAESA.

The Treasury Department included López-Calleja on the list of specially designated nationals and blocked persons. The listing freezes all of his assets in the U.S. or under the control of U.S. persons. Individuals and companies under U.S. jurisdiction are prohibited from dealing with him.

GAESA, or Grupo de Administración Empresarial S.A., is the economic arm of the Revolutionary Armed Forces. It controls more than 50 companies in the country’s most lucrative sectors, such as tourism, remittances, financial services, supermarkets, chain stores, real estate, gas stations, import and export, shipping and construction.

“The revenue generated from the economic activities of GAESA is used to oppress the Cuban people and to fund Cuba’s parasitic, colonial domination of Venezuela,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. “Today’s action demonstrates the United States’ long-standing commitment to ending economic practices that disproportionately benefit the Cuban government or its military, intelligence, and security agencies or personnel at the expense of the Cuban and Venezuelan people.”

President Donald Trump banned direct transactions with GAESA and most of its affiliated companies in a memorandum signed in June 2017 in Miami. Recently, the administration sanctioned Fincimex and AIS, two companies under GAESA’s control involved in the business of remittances to Cuba.

Last year, the United States also imposed individual sanctions against Raúl Castro, his children and the Cuban minister of the interior.

López-Callejas was reportedly married to a daughter of Raúl Castro and was a strong contender for the newly created post of Prime Minister of Cuba. Although he was not named, he exerted his influence to place Manuel Marrero as prime minister, a military man who was in charge of Gaviota, a tourism chain that is part of GAESA.

—Miami Herald


Florida reports nearly 200 new COVID-19 deaths and almost 2,000 new cases

MIAMI — Florida’s Department of Health on Wednesday confirmed 1,948 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s known total to 706,516. Also, 172 Florida resident deaths were announced, bringing the resident death toll to 14,315.

One new nonresident death was also announced, bringing the nonresident toll to 171 for the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard.

The Department of Health told the Miami Herald there was a discrepancy in the number for resident deaths between the state coronavirus report and the state’s dashboard, which incorrectly showed two more resident deaths statewide and wrong death tolls for Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration reports the number of patients hospitalized statewide with a “primary diagnosis of COVID.” The data, which is updated at least every hour, does not distinguish between the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital intensive care units and those in acute-care beds, which require less attention from nurses.

As of 1:31 p.m. EDT Wednesday, the AHCA reported 2,085 current hospitalizations around the state, a decrease of 89 from Tuesday night. The number of cases fell in most South Florida counties. Miami-Dade was down two to 269, Broward was down 13 to 186 and Palm Beach was down three to 111.

—Miami Herald


Man charged in shooting attack on 2 LA County deputies in Compton

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced charges Wednesday morning against a suspect in the shooting attack on two deputies at the Compton Metro station.

Attempted murder charges were filed against Deonte Lee Murray, 36, who was taken into custody after a lengthy standoff in Lynwood on Sept. 15, Lacey said. At the time, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Murray was suspected in an armed carjacking and was not involved in the shooting.

The deputies — a 31-year-old woman and a 24-year-old man who have not been identified by the Sheriff’s Department — were shot in the face and head while sitting in their patrol car near the Compton station on Sept. 12. They underwent surgery, and both have since been released from the hospital.

Murray, who was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday, was charged at the time with one felony count each of carjacking, second-degree robbery and assault with a semiautomatic firearm-personal use of a firearm. The charges include allegations of association with a criminal street gang, discharging a rifle inflicting great bodily injury, and personal use of an AR-15.

The shooting of the deputies was captured on surveillance video. It shows a figure in dark clothes casually walk up a pathway near the Compton Blue Line station, approaching the parked patrol car from behind.

The person draws closer and turns to face the passenger door of the black-and-white patrol SUV, his steps quickening. Inches from the window, he raises a gun, opens fire and runs back the way he came.

Moments later, the passenger door opens and a deputy stumbles out, hand on head. The driver’s door opens soon after. On the radio, a garbled voice mutters: “998 Compton Pax.”

“Compton Pax, deputies down,” the wounded deputy says, almost unintelligibly. “Compton Pax 998.”

—Los Angeles Times