Haiti’s Violent Crisis Continues

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Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the democratic ouster of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday. “I believe a new election is the only way to allow for a healthy and open decision-making process about the future of Israel,” Schumer said yesterday, adding that Netanyahu “has lost his way by allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel.” The comments drew quick condemnations from Republican leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. House Speaker Mike Johnson said yesterday, “This is not only highly inappropriate, it’s just plain wrong for an American leader to play such a divisive role in Israeli politics.” 
  • The European Union approved a landmark artificial intelligence law on Wednesday, creating a regulatory regime for the 27 EU nations. The measure bans certain uses of AI—such as creating facial recognition databases—and embraces a “risk-based approach” to AI regulation, applying scrutiny proportional to what lawmakers consider the risk levels of various AI applications. 
  • Thousands of farmers protested in the Indian capital of New Delhi on Thursday, calling for more government support. The protesters want protection from market swings through minimum crop price guarantees and income increases, among other demands. Prolonged farmer protests in 2021 led to the repeal of contested agricultural reform laws; state and national elections are expected to be held in the coming weeks. 
  • The State Department imposed sanctions Thursday on three Israeli settlers and two outposts “involved in undermining stability in the West Bank.” The move represents the second round of sanctions the State Department has imposed since President Joe Biden signed an executive order providing his administration with new authorities to target individuals in the West Bank accused of committing violence against Palestinians. 
  • The Commerce Department reported Thursday that retail sales—spending on goods including food and fuel—increased by 0.6 percent month-over-month in February, slightly below expectations. January’s revised numbers, which showed that sales fell by 1.1 percent last month instead of the original 0.8 percent estimate, showed weaker spending. (The Commerce Department’s retail data is unadjusted for inflation.)
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yesterday that the producer price index (PPI)—a measure of what suppliers and wholesalers are charging customers—rose 0.6 percent month-over-month in February, double what economists expected. Producer prices were up 1.6 percent year-over-year in February. Thursday’s reading plus last month’s slightly higher than expected consumer price index will likely lead the Fed to maintain interest rates at their current levels. 
  • Federal Judge Judge Aileen Cannon on Thursday denied one of former President Trump’s two motions to dismiss special counsel Jack Smith’s classified documents case against him. Trump’s legal team had argued that the portions of the Espionage Act at the center of the indictment were “unconstitutionally vague,” and therefore the charges ought to be dismissed. In a brief written order, Cannon explained that while Trump’s lawyers made “various arguments warranting serious consideration,” it would be premature to decide those issues at this stage of the trial. 

From Bad to Worse

A demonstration in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on March 12, 2024, against CARICOM as representatives of the Caribbean community and Haitian actors made an agreement for political transition. (Photo by Guerinault Louis/Anadolu/Getty Images)
A demonstration in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on March 12, 2024, against CARICOM as representatives of the Caribbean community and Haitian actors made an agreement for political transition. (Photo by Guerinault Louis/Anadolu/Getty Images)

On Tuesday morning, author Mitch Albom—of Tuesdays with Morrie fame—and nine other volunteers were airlifted out of Haiti on helicopters chartered by Rep. Cory Mills of Florida at the request of Albom’s congressional representative, Rep. Lisa McClain of Michigan. 

The story seems impossibly far-fetched, with Mills—a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who has been a part of private efforts to rescue stranded Americans before—even reportedly riding in one of the helicopters. How did they manage this bizarre extra-governmental mission? “[Mills] runs with a different crowd than you and I,” McClain told the Washington Post

That Hollywood happy ending is a rarity in Haiti, where the last several years have witnessed unspeakable violence, hunger, and disease. This week, gangs continued their rampage in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Haiti’s unpopular prime-minister-in-exile, Ariel Henry, said he would resign after regional leaders pushed for the creation of a transitional government—a step that prompted the Kenyan government to pause its plan to send police to try to quell the chaos. The Biden administration, meanwhile, has promised additional funds for the police mission, but that funding is held up in Congress even as the Senate confirms a new U.S. ambassador to the country after more than two years without one. 

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