Trump blames Democrats, not his team, for border deaths
President Donald Trump claims that two Guatemalan children who died in U.S. custody were already ill, yet both young migrants passed initial health screenings by border officials.
As Democrats criticized Trump for also tweeting Saturday that Democratic immigration policies were responsible for the deaths, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visited medical officials and Border Patrol agents at the Arizona and Texas southern borders. The visit came amid promises of additional wellness screenings for migrant children.
In Guatemala, the mother of 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo, who died Christmas Eve, told The Associated Press that her son was healthy when he left with his father on their journey hoping to migrate to the U.S.
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN-THE LATEST
The Latest: Trump’s wall may be different than advertised
WASHINGTON (AP) — Three confidants of President Donald Trump are indicating that the president’s signature campaign pledge to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border won’t 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.
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.”
Meanwhile, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway calls discussion of the apparent contradiction “a silly semantic argument.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham had lunch Sunday with Trump and calls the wall “a metaphor for border security.”
Graham says Trump slowing down planned withdrawal from Syria
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says President Donald Trump has ordered a slowdown to the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Syria.
Speaking after lunch Sunday with Trump, the South Carolina Republican described the slowdown as “a pause situation” and said, “I think we’re slowing things down in a smart way.”
Graham had been an outspoken critic of Trump’s announced withdrawal of about 2,000 troops from war-torn Syria. Trump had declared victory over the Islamic State group in Syria, though pockets of fighting remain.
Trump’s announcement earlier this month 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.
National security adviser John Bolton will travel to Israel and Turkey next weekend to discuss the president’s plans.
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 7 and others got 3 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.
The opposition has rejected the result, with Hossain calling the election farcical.
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.
LION ATTACK-THE LATEST
The Latest: Authorities ID woman killed by escaped lion
BURLINGTON, N.C. (AP) — Authorities have identified the victim of a fatal lion attack at a wildlife conservatory in North Carolina.
Citing a statement from the Caswell County Sheriff’s Office, news outlets report that 22-year-old worker Alexandra Black was killed Sunday after being attacked by a lion in an enclosure that was being cleaned at the Conservators Center.
Authorities say Black was from New Palestine, Indiana. She had recently graduated from Indiana University and had been working at the conservatory for about two weeks.
The center says a “husbandry team” led by a professionally trained animal keeper was carrying out the routine cleaning when the lion somehow got loose.
The facility was founded in 1999 and is in Burlington, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Raleigh.
Jets fire coach Todd Bowles after 4 seasons with no playoffs
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Jets have fired coach Todd Bowles after four seasons, ending a disappointing tenure that began with plenty of promise but finished with lots of losses and no playoff appearances.
The team announced the long-expected decision Sunday night that it moved on from Bowles, who went 24-40.
There was some uncertainty surrounding general manager Mike Maccagnan’s job status, but it appears he will remain in his role and help lead the Jets’ search for a new coach.
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.
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Buccaneers fire coach Dirk Koetter after 3 seasons
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Dirk Koetter has been fired as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The team made the announcement 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.
The Bucs started 2-0 this year, and then lost 11 of 14 down the stretch, including four straight games to finish the season.
Koetter, who had a 19-29 record, was dismissed after meeting with team ownership after Sunday’s game.
“We sincerely appreciate the hard work and commitment shown by Dirk over the past several years,” Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said in a statement.
Glazer said general manager Jason Licht would begin the search for a new coach immediately.
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Under Trump, ICE is face of hard-line immigration policy
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, is the face of the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration policies.
The agency is tasked with arresting and deporting immigrants in the U.S. illegally. Some have been here for decades, living and working and raising families.
Under President Barack Obama, ICE focused on removing immigrants who had committed serious crimes. In one of his first moves in office, President Donald Trump directed his administration to target anyone in the country illegally.
ICE officials say their mandate is misunderstood. They still focus on finding and deporting dangerous criminals.
Government data back up that ICE is mostly targeting criminals — but also show the agency has increased the number of people arrested who have been accused but not convicted of a crime and also increased arrests for immigration violations.
Former Afghanistan commander warns of plans to cut troops
WASHINGTON (AP) — The former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan says that withdrawing up to half the 14,000 American troops serving there reduces the incentive for the Taliban to negotiate a peace deal after more than 17 years of war.
Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal says on ABC’s “This Week” that the U.S. has “basically traded away the biggest leverage point we have.”
McChrystal also says he’s worried that the Afghan people will lose confidence in the U.S. as an ally that can be counted on.
McChrystal’s comments were in response to reports of the Pentagon developing plans to withdraw thousands of American troops.
He also was critical of President Donald Trump personally, saying he doesn’t believe Trump tells the truth.
When asked if Trump is immoral, McChrystal responded: “I think he is.”
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