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Cuba Protests, Building Around Climate Change, And College Athletes Get Paid

Ismael Francisco
Government supporters shout slogans as anti-government protesters march in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, July 11, 2021. Hundreds of demonstrators went out to the streets in several cities in Cuba to protest against ongoing food shortages and high prices of foodstuffs.

Cuba’s rising dissent. Climate change and building safety. Plus, college athletes can now bank on their names.

On this Monday, July 12, episode of Sundial

Cuba Protests

Thousands of Cubans took to the streets Sunday to protest against the country’s communist regime. These are the largest protests the island has seen in decades.

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Demonstrators shouted “liberty” and “enough” among anti-government slogans in Havana and other towns and cities. The people expressed their discontent over the food shortages, high prices and how officials have handled the pandemic.

The Cuban government sent in police to quell protests. President Miguel Díaz Canel blames the dissent on the U.S. economic embargo.

“I would say that what we saw yesterday ... I don’t think we’ve seen this since 1959. The numbers that we saw yesterday on the streets was spectacular,” said Andy Gomez, retired professor of Cuban Studies and dean of international studies at the University of Miami.

WLRN Americas Editor Tim Padgett said the scale of the protests was largely due to increased access to the internet on the island. The Cuban government shut off that access Sunday night, blocking communication and stopping numerous live streams of the protests on social media.

Gomez added that Cuba has lacked a democratic government for most of the country’s history and that calling for democracy now would take a long time.

“We have learned by trial and error that exporting American democratic principles abroad [doesn’t] work,” Gomez said.

Cuba Protests
Plainclothes police detain an anti-government protester during a protest in Havana, Cuba, on Sunday. Hundreds of demonstrators went out to the streets in several cities in Cuba to protest against ongoing food shortages and high prices of foodstuffs.

Building Around Climate Change

Nearly 100 victims have now been recovered from the Surfside tragedy, with 22 potentially still unaccounted for.

Search and recovery teams continued their work Monday, after several teams from across the U.S. and the globe headed home over the weekend. Investigators remain on site at the Champlain Towers South examining what engineering flaws may have led to the building collapse.

Many are questioning whether rising seas or a warming climate may have also contributed to the building’s instability.

Early on in the reporting of this tragedy, a study from 2020 surfaced saying that the ground beneath the building had sunk by about a half-inch between 1993 and 1996. However, geologists said that might not have contributed to the building’s collapse.

Ground sinking, or subsidence, is a common occurrence. Buildings in Florida are built with their foundations sunk into the bedrock limestone for stability. While limestone can wear away in water, South Florida limestone has smaller caverns which cause smaller sinkholes.

Climate change can affect building stability in other ways. Salty air and water can permeate porous concrete and rust the steel rebar inside, and warmer waters give way to stronger hurricanes.

“When these buildings were built we were at a time of slow hurricane seasons. It didn’t pick up until about 1992,” said Jenny Staletovich, WLRN’s environment reporter.

The investigation into the Surfside collapse is still ongoing, and the question of what caused it won’t be answered for years. However, geologist Randy Parkinson said that doesn’t mean we should shrug them off.

“This could easily have been just something that has nothing to do with climate change, it's building specific and of course, most probably 99 percent of the buildings that have been built and people living from the eighties forward here are very well designed and very, very reliable and safe. But as the climate changes, the context in which we consider and evaluate safety has to change,” he said.

You can read Jenny’s reporting here.

Building Around Climate Change

College Athletes Get Paid

Student athletes in Florida can now make money off of their name, image and likeness.

For decades, athletes and their families have fought for compensation as big-name schools like the University of Florida and Florida State made millions of dollars from their athletic programs.

Under a Florida law that began July 1, student athletes can now sign business agreements that do not violate the standards set by their individual schools.

"Being a college football fan my whole life, right, it's finally here. I would have never thought that this moment would come when I'm in college,” said D’Eriq King, University of Miami quarterback. King was among the first to secure one of these contracts.

He co-founded the company Dreamfield, which sets players up with autograph signings, fan appearances and more.

King said that the regulation of the contracts is largely up to the individual schools. For example, UM doesn’t allow athletes to endorse adult content, but alcohol is okay as long as the student is over 21.

The quarterback signed a deal with The Wharf, and has his own clothing brand. He is planning on signing more deals as time goes on.

College Athletes Get Paid

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Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.
Kristin Moorehead is a 2021 WLRN summer intern and recent graduate of the University of Florida with a B.S. in Telecommunication.