Demonstrators march along a street during a protest in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 14 July 2018. Photo: ReutersEmbattled Haiti prime minister Jack Guy Lafontant resigned on Saturday following deadly violence and looting sparked by a now-abandoned plan to raise fuel prices.”I submitted my resignation to the president of the republic,” who has “accepted my resignation,” Lafontant said in the lower house of Haiti’s legislature.Lafontant had faced a potential vote of no confidence had he not resigned — something he had previously insisted he would not do.Last week, the government in the impoverished Caribbean country announced plans for major fuel price hikes — 38 per cent for gasoline, 47 per cent for diesel and 51 per cent for kerosene.The announcement sparked mass protests, with streets in the capital Port-au-Prince and other cities blocked with barricades of debris and burning tires.Dozens of shops were looted and burned and cars were set ablaze. At least four people were killed. The government quickly did an about-face and called off the planned price increases.Lafontant, a physician who had little political experience before taking office in February 2017, had faced widespread criticism even before the spasm of violence.Several hundred protesters marched on Saturday in Port-au-Prince demanding the departure not just of Lafontant, but also of president Jovenel Moise.”It’s not just a question of changing the prime minister, because day by day, the people are still suffering from more misery, unemployment, insecurity, hunger,” said Fleurette Pierre, one of the demonstrators.Haiti is desperately poor: around 60 per cent of its people live on less than two dollars a day, and they are extremely sensitive to even minor increases in prices of just about anything.In February, Haiti signed an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, the Washington-based global crisis lender, in which the country committed to carrying out economic and structural reforms to promote growth.- ‘More gradual approach’ -One of those conditions was the elimination of petroleum product subsidies, prompting the doomed price hike proposal.The accord also called on the government to keep inflation under 10 per cent.Since 2015, inflation has been running at 13 to 14 per cent annually. The budget blueprint submitted to the legislature in late June still foresaw a rate of 13.6 per cent.On Thursday, the IMF suggested “a more gradual approach” to ending fuel subsidies, paired with “compensatory and mitigating measures to protect the most vulnerable people.””We will continue to support Haiti… as they develop a revised reform strategy,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said, noting that ending subsidies would free up funds for other programmes such as education.Crafting a revised strategy — and divvying up Haiti’s meagre budget resources — will be a delicate task.The decision to scrap the price hikes means the government will have to find another way to come up with the $300 million the move would have generated.It is not an insignificant amount — the total is more than 11 per cent of the 2018-2019 budget presented to parliament in June for debate.Now, Moise’s government has to find a way to appease all sides — angry and impatient consumers, politicians with varying interests and IMF economists.Haiti’s deep levels of inequality are often cited by protesters who want both Lafontant and Moise out of office.More than 200 years after gaining independence from France, Haiti is still ranked by the World Bank as having one of earth’s most unjust societies.
Prothom Alo IllustrationAn accused in a murder case stabbed another accused to death in front of the judge in a courtroom in Cumilla during hearing on Monday, reports UNB.The deceased was Faruk, son of Ohid Ullah of Monoharganj in the district.The incident took place in front of judge Begum Fatema Ferdous of Cumilla Sessions Judge (third) court in the courtroom.The deceased and the attacker happen to be cousins.Cumilla police superintendent Syed Nurul Islam said accused Hasan started stabbing Farukh with a knife indiscriminately while the hearing in the murder case was going on in the court, leaving him critically injured.Faruk was taken to Cumilla Medical College where the physicians declared him dead.Security was tightened on the court premises after the incident, the SP added.Hasan was arrested after the incident, he said.
Share Thursday, December 20, 2018Top afternoon stories:Lina Hidalgo Meets With Harris County Emergency OfficialsTravis Bubenik/Houston Public MediaHarris County Judge-elect Lina Hidalgo (center).Incoming Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is gearing up to lead the county’s homeland security office. She was briefed Thursday by emergency officials as she assembles her administration’s team.Hidalgo sat down with the county’s top disaster response officials, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, county constables and others. Hidalgo praised the officials’ work building what she described as a highly-regarded emergency operations team.Hidalgo said she sees opportunities for streamlining, implementing best practices and cutting out redundancies across county government. She said she wants to build government that’s “better and costs less.”The 27-year old and first-time office holder was elected in November as part of a Democratic “blue wave” that swept the nation’s third-largest county. She takes offices January 1, 2019.Elizabeth Trovall/Houston Public MediaThis photo shows the outside of the detained courts at the ICE Houston Service Processing Center.Historic Backlog Plagues Immigration Courts In Texas, NationwideTexas saw a 30 percent increase in pending immigration cases over the last two years, reaching a backlog of more than 119,000 cases, according to a report by Syracuse University. That’s nearly 30,000 cases more than in September 2016.Since Trump took office, the number of cases pending nationwide grew nearly 50 percent to more than 809,000. The backlog means detained immigrants will spend months longer behind bars, even though detained cases are prioritized in the courts and tend to move much faster.Non-detained immigrants face even longer wait times, though they are given work permissions while they wait. Some court dates are scheduled as far out as 2022. Houston’s courts also saw an increased backlog, with the number of pending cases now over 53,000.Harris County Sheriff’s OfficeHarris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez (center).Sheriff’s Office Asks Victims Of Local Security Company To Come ForwardThe Harris County Sheriff’s Office is asking victims of a man who works for a local security company and that has been arrested for aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping to come forward.Sheriff Ed Gonzalez held a press conference Thursday to discuss the arrest of Pablo Munoz Garza, 39, owner of TexGuard Services Co.A joint task force of the Violent Crime Unit at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) arrested Munoz Garza for aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping for an incident that occurred in July of 2018.According to the investigation, on July 29, 2018, Garza and several of the security guards that work under him assaulted and robbed a 33-year-old Hispanic male at a club called La Oveja Negra. One of the security guards could be identified with the name “Cowboy.”HCSO lieutenant Jeff Stauber said that, based on their findings, investigators think there are other victims.
The Ebola virus that has killed scores of people in Guinea this year is a new strain — evidence that the disease did not spread there from outbreaks in some other African nations, scientists report.”The source of the virus is still not known,” but it was not imported from nearby countries, said Dr. Stephan Gunther of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg, Germany.He led an international team of researchers who studied the genetics of the virus and reported results online Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.The ongoing outbreak has caused panic and killed more than 120 people in West Africa, mostly in Guinea, according to the World Health Organization.Ebola (ee-BOH’-lah) causes internal bleeding and organ failure and is fatal in 30 percent to 90 percent of cases, depending on the strain. It spreads through direct contact with infected people, and some earlier cases have been linked to certain fruit bats that live in West Africa.There is no cure or vaccine, so containing the outbreak has focused on supportive care for those infected with the virus and isolating them to limit its spread.Earlier, health officials had said the Guinea Ebola was a Zaire strain, different from the kind that has caused cases in other parts of Africa. The Democratic Republic of Congo used to be called Zaire.The new research analyzed blood samples from 20 patients in the current outbreak and found the strain was unique.”It is not coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo. It has not been imported to Guinea” from that country or from Gabon, where Ebola also has occurred, Gunther said.Researchers think the Guinea and other strains evolved in parallel from a recent ancestor virus. The Guinea outbreak likely began last December or earlier and might have been smoldering for some time unrecognized. The investigation continues to try to identify “the presumed animal source,” they write.___Online:Journal: http://www.nejm.org