Hopeless in Haiti

Happy Wednesday! Our hearts go out to Tabitha King, who—according to a recent Rolling Stone piece—had to threaten to divorce her husband Stephen to get him to stop playing Lou Bega’s “Mambo No. 5” on repeat while working on his book, 11/22/63.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, reported Monday that Iran’s stockpile of 60 percent enriched uranium grew by 7 percent last quarter, a slowdown from the 30 percent expansion of the stockpile in the previous three months. That said, Iranian scientists reportedly grew their overall stockpiles of uranium enriched to 5 percent and 20 percent levels, which can easily be enriched to higher levels. The IAEA report also found Iran had diluted more than 5 percent of its highly enriched uranium. The unusual step and general slowdown follow months of indirect, behind-the-scenes diplomacy between Washington and Tehran that potentially constitute efforts to negotiate a new nuclear agreement between the two countries.
  • Cuban officials announced Monday they had moved to take down a Russian human trafficking network used to recruit Cuban citizens for the war in Ukraine. “Cuba is not part of the war in Ukraine,” the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement, clashing with its longtime ally. “It is acting and will firmly act against those who, within the national territory, participate in any form of human trafficking for mercenary or recruitment purposes that lead Cuban citizens to raise weapons against any country.”
  • President Joe Biden tested negative for COVID-19 again on Tuesday, the White House said, hours after first lady Jill Biden tested positive for the virus on Monday evening. Biden is still planning to travel to India for the G-20 Summit later this week.
  • The White House announced Tuesday that Biden intends to nominate Jack Lew—former Treasury secretary and chief of staff to President Barack Obama—to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Israel. If confirmed, Lew—who is currently a managing partner at a private equity firm and chairman of the National Committee on United States-China Relations’ board—would succeed Ambassador Tom Nides, who stepped down from the post last month.
  • Congress’ attending physician said Tuesday that, upon examination, he found no evidence indicating that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had suffered a stroke or seizure during his freezing episode last week, when the senator seemed unable to speak for roughly 30 seconds during a press availability. The Senate returned Tuesday from its August recess as questions mount about McConnell’s health and fitness to continue in his role as the leader of Senate Republicans.
  • Texas’ GOP Attorney General Ken Paxton pleaded not guilty yesterday on all 16 articles of impeachment against him. Paxton is being tried in the Texas Senate over allegations of bribery, dereliction of duty, and disregard of official duty. The Senate rejected all 16 of Paxton’s motions to dismiss the articles, as well as a motion to exclude evidence gathered before his most recent election. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick—the presiding officer at the trial—ruled that Paxton could not be compelled to testify in the trial.
  • A federal court in Alabama held Tuesday Alabama’s Republican state legislature’s latest attempts to redraw its congressional maps violated the Supreme Court’s June ruling requiring the creation of a second majority-black district, or something “close to it.” The three-judge panel—which wrote it was “deeply troubled” by the legislature’s seeming disregard of the high court’s ruling—unanimously ordered an independent special master to redraw three options by September 25. Alabama’s attorney general vowed to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. 
  • Gabriel Amo, a former Biden White House aide, won the Democratic primary yesterday in a special election to replace Rhode Island Democrat Rep. David Cicilline, who stepped down from his position to run the Rhode Island Foundation. Amo defeated 10 other Democratic challengers and will face the Republican nominee, Gerry Leonard, in the general election this November. In Utah, former state House aide Celeste Maloy holds a narrow lead over former state lawmaker Becky Edwards in an undecided special election to fill a seat held by Republican Rep. Chris Stewart. Stewart announced his retirement in May, citing his wife’s health. 
  • Former Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio was sentenced to 22 years in prison yesterday after being convicted of seditious conspiracy and obstructing a congressional proceeding related to his actions in organizing the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The sentence represents the most prison time given to any of the hundreds of individuals convicted for their role in the attack.

What’s Going On in Haiti?

Police search the area during an attack by armed gangs in the Carrefour Feuille neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on November 10, 2022. (Photo by RICHARD PIERRIN/AFP via Getty Images)
Police search the area during an attack by armed gangs in the Carrefour Feuille neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on November 10, 2022. (Photo by RICHARD PIERRIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Late last month, an evangelical Haitian pastor led scores of his followers into battle—the latest in a recent vigilante effort to take on the hundreds of violent gangs overrunning Haiti’s capital city, Port-au-Prince. Armed with sticks and machetes, the group tried to confront the gang members who control the nearby suburb of Canaan. The town, which shares its name with the Biblical land God promised the Israelites, is a settlement started by those who lost their homes in the devastating 2010 earthquake. 

The confrontation turned deadly when the well-armed gang fired into the crowd, killing at least seven people. The pastor, Marcorel Zidor, was roundly condemned for his actions, including by the Haitian police and others in Christian ministry in the country. But, “hopeless people make hopeless decisions,” a professor at a Haitian seminary told Christianity Today of the pastor’s efforts.

“Hopeless” is fast becoming a byword for the situation in Haiti. Historically plagued by political instability and poverty—often exacerbated by its earthquake and hurricane-prone location—the country’s already-precarious state of affairs has only worsened since Haitian President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination in July 2021. Though he had but a tenuous grip on power himself, Moïse’s death created a void that was quickly filled by criminal organizations that have brought the country to a standstill as they murder, rape, and kidnap with virtual impunity. The United States is warning its citizens to get out of the country—and Haitian migrants are attempting to do the same. Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council is mulling an intervention—not for the first time—to stabilize the Caribbean nation, though the proposal currently on the table may prove inadequate to the monumental task. 

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