3.13.2024

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Wednesday, March 13, and we're covering the resignation of Haiti's prime minister, a Ukrainian attack on a Russian refinery, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

Hur Testimony

House Judiciary Committee members yesterday interrogated Robert Hur, the special counsel who investigated President Joe Biden’s handling of classified materials found in Biden’s home and office from his time as vice president.

 

Much of the hearing focused on Hur’s decision not to prosecute Biden—driven in part by Hur's characterization of the president as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” Democrats dismissed the phrasing as a smear and sought to draw attention to former President Donald Trump's depositions. Republicans criticized Hur's decision, accusing the DOJ of a "two-tiered system of justice," pointing to former Special Counsel Jack Smith's decision to charge Trump over his handling of classified documents (see overview).

 

Hur defended his conclusion, saying a jury’s perception of Biden’s memory and mental state would make it difficult to prove his intention to mishandle documents, a prerequisite for conviction. The Justice Department yesterday released a transcript of Hur's interviews with Biden showing the president's struggle with recalling the timing of certain events, including the year of his son Beau’s death and the year Trump was elected.

 

See testimony highlights here. Read Hur's report here.

 

Haitian Leader Resigns

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced his resignation yesterday amid the country's escalating gang violence, vowing to dissolve his government once a transitional council is established. The timing of an interim government remains unclear.

 

A gang alliance, dubbed “the G9 family and allies,” is led by former police officer Jimmy "Barbecue" Cherizier and controls about 80% of the Caribbean country’s capital. The gang orchestrated a mass jailbreak last week, causing widespread violence amid calls for Henry to resign. Henry, who defied a Feb. 7 deadline to step down and allow for new elections, has been acting prime minister since the assassination of Jovenel Moïse—Henry was accused of having links to participants in the assassination. 

 

A UN-sponsored international security support mission is expected to assist Haiti in restoring order—Haiti has roughly 10,000 police officers in a country of 11 million. However, the force, which would be led by 1,000 police officers from Kenya, is on hold until a new government is formed. The US said earlier this week it would contribute $300M to support the mission.

 

Ukrainian Drone Attack

Fires erupted and partially halted production at a major oil refinery in western Russia yesterday after Ukraine reportedly launched at least two dozen drones against the country's energy infrastructure, one of its largest such cross-border attacks of the war. The plant is responsible for 6% of Russian crude oil production. The assault came as the US announced $300M in weapons support to Ukraine, the first American aid package since December.

 

Separately, a Russian military transport plane carrying 15 passengers reportedly crashed outside Moscow shortly after liftoff yesterday. No reports of casualties have been released. Elsewhere, Russian paramilitary groups reportedly aligned with Ukraine claimed small gains against Russian defenses in regions along the border yesterday. See war updates here

 

The conflict—now in its third year—has seen few major developments in recent months outside of a shake-up in Ukraine's top military leadership in February. Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to win his fifth presidential term this weekend amid the Kremlin's tight control of elections.  

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> "Dear England" and "Sunset Boulevard" lead for most nominations for 2024's Olivier Awards, the British equivalent to Broadway’s Tony Awards (More)

> Eric Carmen, singer known for "All by Myself" and "Hungry Eyes," dies at 74 (More) | David Mixner, longtime LGBTQ activist, dies at 77 (More)

> Social media influencer Andrew Tate briefly detained in Romania, due to be extradited to the UK over allegations of sexual aggression (More

 

Science & Technology

In partnership with Knightscope

> Google restricts its Gemini chatbot from answering a range of questions about global elections (More) | Explaining the recent backlash against Google's AI efforts (More)

> Farmers reduce pesticide use by more than half in field tests using new spray nozzle designs; technology may help cut agricultural costs while lowering impact of pesticide runoff (More)

> Researchers discover key single protein allowing mammals to sense cold temperatures; study reveals how body takes in certain sensory data, helping yield treatments for people with temperature hypersensitivity (More)

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Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +1.1%, Dow +0.6%, Nasdaq +1.5%); S&P 500 notches record close (More) | Consumer price index rose 0.4% month-over-month and 3.2% year-over-year in February (More

> Oracle shares close up 12%, reaching record high a day after posting better-than-expected quarterly results and teasing announcement with chip giant Nvidia (More

> Boeing delivery delays impacting growth plans for Southwest, Alaska, and United (More) | Boeing 737 Max production line failed 33 of 89 product audits, per Federal Aviation Administration findings (More) | Chilean authorities lead probe into sudden midair dive of LATAM Airlines Boeing 787 plane that injured 50 people (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> House to vote today on bill banning TikTok (170 million US users) unless Chinese-based owner ByteDance divests within 165 days (More) | Rep. Ken Buck (R, CO-4) to resign next week, narrowing Republican majority to 218-213 (More)

> President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump win enough delegates to secure their respective parties' presidential nominations (More) | Republican National Committee to lay off over 60 people and move most operations to Florida (More

> Gaza aid ship leaves Cyprus carrying 200 tons of food in first shipment by sea as the US and its allies work to open a maritime humanitarian corridor (More) | India's 

government to implement 2019 law expediting citizenship to religious minorities from three countries, excluding Muslims (More)

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Etcetera
 

The mysterious 2020 monoliths are back.

 

Congress is getting less productive.

 

America's fastest-growing high school sport is girls' wrestling.

 

How to get the right solar eclipse glasses before April 8.

 

See leaked designs of the scrapped Apple Car.

 

What ice cream looks like under a microscope

 

The "magic trifecta" of company benefits: medical, maternity, and mental health.

 

Library waives fees in exchange for cat pictures.

 

Clickbait: The next big accessory: Trader Joe's bags.

 

Historybook: Uranus discovered (1781); President Benjamin Harrison dies (1901); Susan B. Anthony dies (1906); Tennis star Coco Gauff born (2004); Pope Francis' papacy begins (2013).

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