2nd child dead in US custody mourned in Guatemala village
YALAMBOJOCH, Guatemala (AP) — White flowers and flickering candles sat atop a low table inside the simple wooden home in remote, rural Guatemala. Nearby was a small pair of rubber boots, sized to fit an 8-year-old.
Taped to the wall were three photos, alternately smiling and serious, bearing a simple epitaph for the boy whose memory the makeshift altar honored: “Felipe Gomez Alonzo. Died Dec. 24 2018 in New Mexico, United States.”
On Christmas Eve, Felipe became the second Guatemalan child this month to die while in U.S. custody near the Mexican border. The deaths prompted widespread criticism of President Donald Trump, who has sought to deflect responsibility toward Democrats even as his Homeland Security secretary vowed additional health screenings for detained migrant children.
In the boy’s village of Yalambojoch, in western Guatemala, the political fallout in the United States seemed a world away and there was only deep sadness over his death. Relatives said they had no idea that such a tragedy could occur. Nor had they heard about U.S. policies that led to thousands of migrant children being separated from their parents earlier this year.
“We don’t have a television. We don’t have a radio,” Catarina Gomez, Felipe’s sister, said Saturday. “We didn’t know what had happened before.”
Trump’s promise of a wall may not be fulfilled as advertised
WASHINGTON (AP) — Three confidantes of President Donald Trump, including his departing chief of staff, are indicating that the president’s signature campaign pledge to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would not be fulfilled as advertised.
Trump sparked fervent chants of “Build that wall!” at rallies before and after his election and more recently cited a lack of funding for a border wall as the reason for partially shutting down the government. At times the president has also waved off the idea that the wall could be any kind of barrier.
However, White House chief of staff John Kelly told the Los Angeles Times in an interview published Sunday that Trump abandoned the notion of “a solid concrete wall early on in the administration.”
“To be honest, it’s not a wall,” Kelly said, adding that the mix of technological enhancements and “steel slat” barriers the president now wants along the border resulted from conversations with law enforcement professionals.
Along the same lines, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway called discussion of the apparent contradiction “a silly semantic argument.”
Graham says Trump slowing down planned withdrawal from Syria
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has ordered a slowdown to the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Syria, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday.
“I think we’re in a pause situation,” the South Carolina Republican said outside the White House after lunch with the president.
Trump announced earlier this month that he was ordering the withdrawal of all the roughly 2,000 troops from war-torn Syria, with aides expecting it to take place swiftly. The president had declared victory over the Islamic State group in Syria, though pockets of fighting remain.
Graham had been an outspoken critic of Trump’s decision, which had drawn bipartisan criticism. The announcement also had shocked lawmakers and American allies, including Kurds who have fought alongside the U.S. against the Islamic State group and face an expected assault by Turkey.
“I think we’re slowing things down in a smart way,” Graham said, adding that Trump was very aware of the plight of the Kurds.
Election official says Bangladesh’s ruling alliance won vote
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — An election official says Bangladesh’s ruling alliance led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has won Sunday’s election with 288 seats giving it enough to form the government.
Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed finished delivering the results of the voting early Monday.
Ahmed said the ruling Awami League-led alliance won 288 seats while Jatiya Party led by former president H.M.Ershad had 20 seats. An opposition alliance led by prominent lawyer Kamal Hossain had only seven and others got three out of 300 seats. Election to one seat was not held Sunday and results for another seat were halted by the commission.
The results mean Hasina will form the government for the third consecutive time, even as the opposition claims her leadership has become increasingly authoritarian.
The opposition has rejected the election results, with Hossain calling the election farcical and demanding that a new election be held under the authority of a “nonpartisan government.”
Judge clears the way for appeal of ruling against health law
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge in Texas who recently declared the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional has stayed his ruling to allow for appeals.
That means “Obamacare” remains in effect while litigation continues.
In a ruling issued Sunday, Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth wrote that he stands by his earlier conclusion that the entire law is invalidated by congressional repeal of its fines on people who remain uninsured, like a house of cards collapsing.
However, because “many everyday Americans would … face great uncertainty” if that ruling were immediately put into effect, O’Connor issued a stay to allow for appeals.
A group of Republican-led states brought the lawsuit. A coalition of Democratic state attorneys general, led by California’s Xavier Becerra, intends to appeal. Congressional Democrats also plan to appeal.
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:
Lion kills worker after escaping locked area at conservatory
BURLINGTON, N.C. (AP) — A lion killed a young worker at a wildlife conservatory Sunday after it got loose from a locked space, the center said.
Alexandra Black, 22, of New Palestine, Indiana, was killed Sunday after being attacked by the lion in an enclosure that was being cleaned at the Conservators Center, news outlets reported, citing a statement from the Caswell County Sheriff’s Office.
The lion was shot and killed after attempts to tranquilize the animal failed, deputies said.
A “husbandry team” led by a professionally trained animal keeper was carrying out the routine cleaning when the lion somehow got loose, the center said in a statement.
It wasn’t clear how the lion escaped the area that was supposed to be locked, said the center, which is closed until further notice.
Jets fire coach Todd Bowles after 4 seasons with no playoffs
NEW YORK (AP) — Todd Bowles’ tenure with the New York Jets began four years ago with plenty of promise. It ended with too many losses and no playoff appearances.
The team announced the long-expected decision that it moved on from Bowles on Sunday night, a few hours after the Jets wrapped up their season with a 38-3 loss at New England.
“I would like to thank coach Bowles for his dedication to the New York Jets for the last four years,” Jets Chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement. “After carefully evaluating the situation, I have concluded that this is the right direction for the organization to take. I would like to wish Todd, Taneka and their family only the best.”
Bowles, 54, was hired in January 2015 after New York fired Rex Ryan. The Jets got off to a solid start under Bowles, who guided them to a 10-6 record. But they fell a win shy of the playoffs in his first season after losing a win-and-in game against Ryan’s Bills. Still, many expected the Jets to take the next step under Bowles.
It never happened.
Buccaneers fire coach Dirk Koetter after 3 seasons
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Dirk Koetter seemed resigned to his fate.
The coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was fired Sunday night a little more than three hours after the Bucs concluded a disappointing season with a 34-32 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Koetter was promoted from offensive coordinator to his first NFL head coaching position when Tampa Bay fired Lovie Smith in January 2016. He led the Bucs to a 9-7 record that year, but followed up with consecutive 5-11 finishes.
His successor will be the sixth coach will be the fifth coach the team has had since firing Jon Gruden after the 2008 season. The Bucs have missed the playoffs 11 straight seasons and haven’t won a playoff game since their Super bowl run under Gruden in 2002.
“I’d love to finish out my contract, of course I would,” Koetter said during his postgame news conference.
World’s tallest empty hotel lit up with N. Korean propaganda
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — The 105-story Ryugyong Hotel has long been a blot on the Pyongyang skyline. The world’s tallest unoccupied building has towered over North Korea’s capital since 1987, a grand but empty pyramid entirely dark except for the lone aircraft warning light at its top.
Outsiders saw the unfinished building as the epitome of failure, while people inside the country took care to rarely mention it at all.
That is, until light designer Kim Yong Il made the building once again the talk of the town.
In a brilliant flip of the script, the Ryugyong has been reborn as a symbol of pride and North Korean ingenuity.
For several hours each night, the building that doesn’t have electricity inside becomes the backdrop of a massive light show in which more than 100,000 LEDs flash images of famous statues and monuments, bursts of fireworks, party symbols and political slogans.
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