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The Morning Rundown™

U.S. intelligence chiefs warn of threats at border, abroad

Mar 12


With ongoing wars and the crisis at the border, U.S. intelligence officials warn of threats at home and abroad. And changes are coming for groceries with that ‘Made in the USA’ label. These stories and more highlight The Morning Rundown for Tuesday, March 12, 2024.

U.S. intelligence chiefs warn of threats at border, abroad

Top U.S. intelligence officials, including FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director William Burns, warned of various threats facing the nation during their testimony before Congress at the annual “Worldwide Threats” congressional hearing on Monday, March 11.

Wray addressed concerns about the crisis at the border, responding to questions from Senator Marco Rubio about threats from individuals entering the U.S. illegally. Wray highlighted the danger posed by drug trafficking and violent crime linked to gangs involved in distributing fentanyl, noting the FBI seized enough fentanyl in the last two years to kill 270 million people.

Despite acknowledging that criminals have indeed entered the U.S. through the southern border, Wray clarified that the FBI is not aware of any specific plots. The officials also discussed threats related to ongoing wars in Europe and the Middle East.

Burns emphasized the importance of America’s continued support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, arguing that additional funding is crucial for Ukraine to remain a “strong, sovereign, independent country.” He warned of a “grimmer future” for Ukraine and broader implications for European security and stability in the Indo-Pacific if support wanes, potentially emboldening China’s ambitions in regions such as Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Robert Hur to testify before Congress on Biden classified documents report

A month after the release of his report on the investigation into President Biden’s handling of classified documents, Robert Hur, the special counsel, is scheduled to testify before Congress today. In his role as special counsel, Hur recommended no charges against Biden.

However, his report, which spans nearly 400 pages, drew significant attention for its critique of the president’s age and memory, suggesting that a potential jury might view Biden as a “sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with poor memory.”

Following the release of Hur’s report, President Biden addressed the nation from the White House, defending his cognitive abilities and overall fitness for office. Hur’s report did acknowledge Biden’s cooperation with the investigation, noting that the president had voluntarily turned in classified documents, consented to searches of multiple locations including his homes, and sat for a voluntary interview.

Biden, Trump could clinch nominations after today’s contests

While President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are the frontrunners for their respective parties’ presidential nominations, nothing is official yet. This could change after today’s contests. Georgia, Mississippi, and Washington state are holding primaries for both parties, along with a GOP caucus in Hawaii. The Northern Mariana Islands and Democrats Abroad will also conclude their Democratic Party contests.

Biden is 102 delegates short of securing the Democratic nomination, with 254 delegates available today. Trump needs 140 delegates to become the GOP’s presumptive nominee, with 161 delegates at stake in today’s primaries.

Haitian Prime Minister to resign amid rising gang violence

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, speaking from Puerto Rico, announced his intention to resign after the formation of a transitional presidential council. The announcement followed a high-level meeting in Jamaica that included members of the Caribbean trade bloc and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The leaders gathered to discuss the increasing violence in Haiti, where criminal gangs have seized control of a large part of the capital city, impacting international travel. Due to security concerns, Henry has been unable to return to Haiti and remains in Puerto Rico. However, the U.S. Territory’s Department of State indicated he plans to return once conditions allow.

In response to the crisis, Blinken has pledged an additional $100 million to support the deployment of a multinational force in Haiti, along with $33 million in humanitarian aid. A joint proposal, designed to hasten the political transition and set up a “presidential college,” has received backing from Caribbean leaders and Haitian stakeholders alike.

Ship sets sail from Cyprus to Gaza to deliver aid

A ship carrying 200 tons of food aid for Gaza has set sail from Cyprus, marking what is considered the first shipment of aid by sea to the war-torn territory. The departure of the ship was captured in video footage by The Associated Press as it was towed out of a harbor Tuesday morning.

The effort is spearheaded by World Central Kitchen, an international charity founded by celebrity chef José Andrés. The organization describes this shipment as a test run for establishing a sea corridor to supply aid to Gaza amid the ongoing five-month conflict between Israel and Hamas.

In a related development, a United States Army ship is en route to Gaza with equipment intended to construct a temporary pier, facilitating further aid delivery to the region.

New federal rule issued on ‘Product of USA’ food label

Aiming to assist consumers in purchasing American-made groceries, the U.S. Department of Agriculture introduced a new federal rule on Monday, March 11, targeting meats, eggs, and poultry.

According to the rule, only products derived from animals born and raised in the United States can bear the labels “Made in the USA” or “Product of USA.”

Under the current system, companies have been able to apply these labels to meats imported from other countries. While the use of these labels remains voluntary, the new regulation seeks to bolster consumer confidence in the “Made in the USA” designation, ensuring that such claims on meats, eggs, and poultry are genuinely reflective of American sourcing.

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