Trump tries to deflect blame for migrant children’s deaths
President Donald Trump sought to deflect blame for the deaths of two Guatemalan children in U.S. custody by claiming they were “very sick” when they arrived, even though immigration authorities have said both children passed initial health checks.
The mother of the boy who died Christmas Eve told The Associated Press on Saturday that her son was healthy when he left with his father on their journey hoping to migrate to the U.S.
Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visited Border Patrol agents and medical officials at the southern border amid promises of more thorough health screenings for migrant children.
Trump, whose administration has faced widespread criticism over the deaths, pointed on Twitter at Democrats “and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally.”
He also said that both children “were very sick before they were given over to Border Patrol.”
Short on solutions, long on blame in 2nd shutdown weekend
WASHINGTON (AP) — Cooped up in the White House after canceling a vacation to his private Florida club, President Donald Trump fired Twitter barbs at Democrats on Saturday as talks to end a weeklong partial government shutdown remained at a stalemate.
As the disruption in federal services and public employees’ pay appeared set to continue into the new year, there were no signs of any substantive negotiation between the blame-trading parties. Trump held out for billions in federal funds for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, which Democrats have said they were intent on blocking.
Trump tweeted Saturday that he was “in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come on over and make a deal on Border Security.” But there has been little direct contact between the sides during the stalemate, and Trump did not ask Republicans, who hold a monopoly on power in Washington for another five days, to keep Congress in session.
As he called for Democrats to negotiate on the wall, Trump brushed off criticism that his administration bore any responsibility for the recent deaths of two migrant children in Border Patrol custody. Trump claimed the deaths were “strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally.” His comments on Twitter came as his Homeland Security secretary met with medical professionals and ordered policy changes meant to better protect children detained at the border.
Trump earlier had upped the brinkmanship by threatening anew to close the border with Mexico to press Congress to cave to his demand for money to pay for a wall. Democrats are vowing to pass legislation restoring the government as soon as they take control of the House on Thursday, but that won’t accomplish anything unless Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate go along with it.
Boy whose Yemeni mom fought US travel ban to see him dies
LODI, Calif. (AP) — The father of a 2-year-old boy who was separated from his Yemeni mother until she successfully fought the Trump administration’s travel ban to see him in the United States laid his body to rest Saturday, a day after the child was taken off life support at a hospital.
Under a cloudless winter day, Ali Hassan carried his son’s small body to bury at an Islamic cemetery in California’s Central Valley.
“I’m a U.S. citizen; my son is a U.S. citizen,” the 22-year-old father told mourners at a service before burial. “The Muslim ban kept my wife from coming to the U.S. for over a year. It forced me to choose between my son’s health and keeping our family together. We are angry, but we know our son did not die in vain.”
The child’s distraught mother mourned privately at home.
Abdullah Hassan died Friday at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, where his father brought him in the fall to get treatment for a degenerative brain condition. He had been on life support when his 21-year-old mother, Shaima Swileh, arrived last week.
Military women, female veterans are shifting away from GOP
WASHINGTON (AP) — It had been months since retired Lt. Cmdr. Michele Fitzpatrick paid attention to news coverage. She was turned off by President Donald Trump’s tweetstorms and attacks on critics such as the late Republican Sen. John McCain, a war hero. But as the November midterm elections approached, she fired up her laptop.
A member of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s Class of 1980, the first to include women, Fitzpatrick began researching candidates and poring over issues. On Election Day, she voted without hesitation: all Democrat.
“I just don’t think what’s happening now is helpful,” Fitzpatrick, of Groton, Connecticut, said in a telephone interview, pointing to the negative discourse in Washington. “It’s almost like watching kids and bullies on the playground instead of people actually doing something about helping this country to survive and to thrive.”
That’s hardly a startling view from a Democrat these days. But from a military vet?
Long seen as a bastion of support for Republicans, the face of the U.S. military and its veterans is changing — and perhaps too is their political bent.
China’s Disappeared: A look at who went missing in 2018
BEIJING (AP) — It’s not uncommon for individuals who speak out against the government to disappear in China, but the scope of the “disappeared” has expanded since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2013.
Not only dissidents and activists, but also high-level officials, Marxists, foreigners and even a movie star — people who never publicly opposed the ruling Communist Party — have been whisked away by police to unknown destinations.
The widening dragnet throws into stark relief the lengths to which Xi’s administration is willing to go to maintain its control and authority.
A look at some of the people who went missing in 2018 at the hands of the Chinese state:
California officer’s killing reignites sanctuary law fight
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The shooting death of a California police officer has reignited the debate over sanctuary laws, with a sheriff all but blaming the statewide immigration policy for the killing as he announced the arrest of a man living in the U.S. illegally.
A two-day statewide manhunt ended Friday with the arrest of Gustavo Perez Arriaga, who came out with his hands up as a SWAT team prepared to raid a home in Bakersfield, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of where Cpl. Ronil Singh was shot in the small town of Newman before dawn Wednesday.
Perez Arriaga was captured while planning to flee to his native Mexico, authorities said.
Sheriff Adam Christianson, who led the investigation, blamed California’s sanctuary law for preventing local authorities from reporting Perez Arriaga to U.S. immigration officials for deportation after two previous drunken driving arrests.
“We can’t ignore the fact that this could have been preventable,” Christianson told reporters, asking why the state was “providing sanctuary for criminals (and) gang members. It’s a conversation we need to have.”
Oregon hotel fires 2 employees who mistreated black guest
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon hotel said it fired two of its employees for mistreatment of a black guest who was talking on his phone in the lobby when he was asked to leave a week ago.
DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Portland tweeted Saturday they have “terminated the employment of the two men involved.” They said the men’s actions “were inconsistent with our standards & values.” The hotel didn’t identify the employees.
Jermaine Massey accused the hotel of racially profiling him after a security guard called police to remove him from the lobby Dec. 22. He was staying at the hotel, and his attorneys say they want a public explanation and intend to pursue legal action, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported .
On Friday, the hotel apologized to Massey on Twitter, saying the employees involved had been placed on leave and an investigation would be done. A day later, it said two workers were fired.
The security guard told Massey that if he could not provide a room number, he would be asked to leave. The Washington state resident left with an officer, according to a police report.
Bangladesh votes as iron-lady PM seeks 3rd straight term
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Voting began Sunday in Bangladesh’s contentious parliamentary elections, seen as a referendum on what critics call Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s increasingly authoritarian rule.
Hasina’s main rival is former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, the leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, deemed ineligible by a court from running for office because she is in prison for corruption.
The two women have been in and out of power — and prison — for decades.
In Zia’s absence, opposition parties have formed a coalition led by Kamal Hossain, an 82-year-old Oxford-educated lawyer and former member of Hasina’s Awami League party.
By 8 a.m. Sunday when polls opened, about 80 people had lined up to cast their ballot at a voting center in Dhaka’s Uttara Model Town area.
Lawrence lights up Notre Dame, No. 2 Clemson cruises 30-3
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — When Clemson’s Dabo Swinney entrusted a team with championship aspirations to freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence in September, this is what the Tigers’ coach had in mind.
Lawrence threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns and No. 2 Clemson beat No. 3 Notre Dame 30-3 on Saturday in the Cotton Bowl to reach the College Football Playoff title game. The Tigers (14-0) will play either No. 1 Alabama — for a fourth straight season in the playoff — or No. 4 Oklahoma on Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, California.
“He’s just so poised. He just sees it. And he’s got a gift of an arm,” Swinney said. “But I just love his humility and how consistent he is with his preparation, day in and day out. Easy, easy guy to coach. Easy guy to get behind and support. His teammates love him.”
Clemson’s overpowering and experienced defensive line, led by ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, smothered Ian Book and the Fighting Irish (12-1), holding them to 248 yards.
On offense, freshmen led the way. Lawrence, making his 10th career start, was 27 for 39 and did not throw an interception against a Notre Dame defense that had been one of the best on the country. Freshman receiver Justyn Ross had six catches for 148 yards and two long touchdowns.
Amid 2018’s tragedies were moments of compassion and duty
Deadliest shooting at an American high school: Parkland, Florida.
Deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century: Paradise, California.
Deadliest attack on Jews in American history: Pittsburgh.
The cities of Parkland, Paradise and Pittsburgh became synonymous with tragedy in 2018, a year when the nation seemed to careen from one deadly horror to another. Yet in every calamity, there were people who showed their humanity, their selfless strength and their sense of duty amid the suffering.
As the year draws to a close, Associated Press reporters on the front lines of some of the year’s heartbreaking stories offer up accounts of compassion and decency.
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