Haiti, Deadly Turbulence, and America's Best Places to Live

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Good morning. It's Wednesday, May 22, and we're covering an international effort to quell violence in Haiti, a terrifying two minutes aboard an international flight, and much more. First time reading? Join over 3.5 million readers. Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

Kenyan Officers in Haiti

Kenya will begin to deploy police officers to Haiti to lead a UN-authorized multinational mission to quell gang violence. The officers—some of whom have experience fighting Islamist insurgent groups near Somalia—will constitute 1,000 of the 2,500-person security force that is largely financed by the US.

 

More than 1,500 people have been killed in Haiti so far this year, and hundreds of thousands have fled as gangs control 80% of the capital of Port-au-Prince. One of them—the Crips-inspired 5 Segonn—is among the country’s leading cocaine traffickers, with ties to the 2021 assassination of Haiti’s then-president. 

 

Kenya's decision to deploy officers comes after a series of court-ordered delays and as Haiti’s main airport reopened for the first time in three months. In addition to Kenya, a number of countries have offered personnel for the mission, including the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Chad, and Jamaica.

 

Fatal Turbulence

A 73-year-old man died and at least 71 others were injured amid severe turbulence aboard a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore early Tuesday. The flight was redirected for an emergency landing in Thailand, where dozens were treated for back and head injuries, including six critically. 

 

The Boeing 777 was carrying 229 people at 37,000 feet when the plane abruptly dropped 6,000 feet in roughly two minutes, throwing passengers against the ceiling and around the cabin. Officials identified the deceased as British citizen Geoff Kitchen, who reportedly died of a heart attack during the episode. 

 

While injuries from turbulence are very rare—with an average of 12 annually from 2008 to 2022 in the US—mild turbulence is a common flight experience. Shifting wind direction or speed, due to weather patterns or the shape of the landscape below, caused the aircraft to move suddenly, similar to the impact of a wave on a boat. Watch a pilot explain here.

 

Johansson Versus OpenAI

The Hollywood actors union, SAG-AFTRA, voiced support yesterday for Scarlett Johansson after the actress raised concerns over OpenAI's new artificial intelligence chatbot that features a voice that allegedly sounds similar to her own. OpenAI unveiled its latest model, GPT-4o, last week, allowing users the ability to converse with an AI system; at issue is a persona named "Sky."

 

Johansson revealed OpenAI CEO Sam Altman approached her last year to voice the AI model—the actress voiced a fictional AI assistant in the 2013 film "Her"—but she declined the offer. OpenAI agreed to remove the "Sky" voice after Johansson's lawyers demanded an explanation of how it was created. OpenAI claimed the voice belonged to a different unnamed actress and followed up with a blog post on how it created the voices.

 

The incident has reignited concerns over protecting artists' voices and likenesses from unauthorized replication, with SAG-AFTRA recently backing legislation to safeguard its members.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

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> NBA Western Conference Finals kick off tonight (8:30 pm ET, TNT) with the Dallas Mavericks taking on the Minnesota Timberwolves (More) | NHL Eastern Conference Finals begin tonight (8 pm ET, ESPN) with the New York Rangers hosting the Florida Panthers (More)

> Pixar lays off 14% of workforce—175 employees—as Disney reduces content output for streaming and prioritizes theatrical releases (More) | Comcast unveils $15 per month streaming bundle including Peacock, Netflix, and Apple TV+ for Xfinity TV and internet customers (More)

> Los Angeles police are investigating source of ketamine that contributed to "Friends" actor Matthew Perry's death (More) | Fred Roos, Oscar-winning producer and casting director known for work on "The Godfather" trilogy, dies at 89 (More)

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Science & Technology

> Volvo debuts self-driving version of its heavy truck, designed for long-haul transport; production-ready vehicle is certified at the fourth level of autonomous safety standards (More) | What are the five levels of self-driving safety standards? (More)

> European Space Agency plans nuclear-powered Martian rover that uses radioactive americium to stay warm, the first time such technology has been used on a spacecraft (More

> Paleontologists discover fossil of feathered dinosaur with scaly skin, shedding light on the evolutionary transition from scales to feathers roughly 130 million years ago (More

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +0.3%, Dow +0.2%, Nasdaq +0.2%) with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq reaching new records; Nvidia's stock rises 0.6% in advance of earnings report today (More)

> Energy Department says it will release 1 million barrels of gasoline from a Northeast reserve in 100,000 barrel increments to lower gas prices this summer (More

> San Francisco-based Scale AI—which specializes in data labeling for large-language models—raises $1B at a $13.8B valuation; its AI-powered decision-making tool Donovan is being used by the US Department of Defense (More

 

Politics & World Affairs

> California voters cast ballots in special election to replace outgoing Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-20); McCarthy resigned after being ousted from speaker role in October, see results (More) | Defense rests in hush money case against former President Donald Trump; Trump opts to not take stand, closing arguments set for next week (More)

> Trial begins in Germany over alleged far-right plot in 2022 to launch a coup; nine people on trial include German aristocrat accused of planning to storm the parliament and arrest lawmakers (More)

> Nigerian army rescues 350 hostages, many of them women and children, from extremist group Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria (More)

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Etcetera
 

The 150 best places to live in the US.

 

Pet Gala red carpet, with designs inspired by Met Gala. (w/photo)

 

Mushroom hunters in Thailand discover a stone sculpture.

 

Body lice may have helped spread the Black Plague.

 

Erin Hanson's impressionist-inspired oil paintings. (w/photos)

 

Chimpanzee in zoo returns shoe to visitor. (w/video)

 

Japanese town blocks tourists' view of Mount Fuji.

 

Internet delights over baby excited about Four Seasons Orlando.

 

Clickbait: What is quiet vacationing?

 

Historybook: (First) first lady of the US Martha Washington dies (1802); The Associated Press is founded (1846); Poet Langston Hughes dies (1967); Supermodel Naomi Campbell born (1970); Manchester Arena bombing kills 22 following Ariana Grande concert (2017).

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