Later On

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Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

Conservatives mount a whisper campaign smearing Khashoggi in defense of Trump

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Is there nothing to which conservatives will not stoop? Robert Costa and Karoun Demirjian report in the Washington Post:

Hard-line Republicans and conservative commentators are mounting a whispering campaign against Jamal Khashoggi that is designed to protect President Trump from criticism of his handling of the dissident journalist’s alleged murder by operatives of Saudi Arabia — and support Trump’s continued aversion to a forceful response to the oil-rich desert kingdom.

In recent days, a cadre of conservative House Republicans allied with Trump has been privately exchanging articles from right-wing outlets that fuel suspicion of Khashoggi, highlighting his association with the Muslim Brotherhood in his youth and raising conspiratorial questions about his work decades ago as an embedded reporter covering Osama bin Laden, according to four GOP officials involved in the discussions who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Those aspersions — which many lawmakers have been wary of stating publicly because of the political risks of doing so — have begun to flare into public view as conservative media outlets have amplified the claims, which are aimed in part at protecting Trump as he works to preserve the U.S.-Saudi relationship and avoid confronting the Saudis on human ri ghts.

“Khashoggi was tied to the Muslim Brotherhood,” Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner asserted on Thursday’s highly rated “Outnumbered” show. “I just put it out there because it is in the constellation of things that are being talked about.” Faulkner then dismissed another guest who called her claim “iffy.”

The message was echoed on the campaign trail. Virginia Republican Corey A. Stewart, who is challenging Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), told a local radio program Thursday that “Khashoggi was not a good guy himself.”

While Khashoggi was once sympathetic to Islamist movements, he moved toward a more liberal, secular point of view, according to experts on the Middle East who have tracked his career. Khashoggi knew bin Laden in the 1980s and 1990s during the civil war in Afghanistan, but his interactionswith bin Laden were as a journalist with a point of view who was working with a prized source.

Nevertheless, the smears have escalated. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son and key political booster, shared another person’s tweet last week with his millions of followers that included a line that Khashoggi was “tooling around Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden” in the 1980s, even though the context was a feature story on bin Laden’s activities.

A Tuesday broadcast of CR-TV, a conservative online outlet founded by popular talk-radio host Mark Levin, labeled Khashoggi a “longtime friend” of terrorists and claimed without evidence that Trump was the victim of an “insane” media conspiracy to tarnish him. The broadcast has been viewed more than 12,000 times.

story in far-right FrontPage magazine casts Khashoggi as a “cynical and manipulative apologist for Islamic terrorism, not the mythical martyred dissident whose disappearance the media has spent the worst part of a week raving about,” and features a garish cartoon of bin Laden and Khashoggi with their arms around each other.

The conservative push comes as Saudi government supporters on Twitter have sought in a propaganda campaign to denigrate Khashoggi as a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement once tolerated but now outlawed in Saudi Arabia as a terrorist organization.

“Trump wants to take a soft line, so Trump supporters are finding excuses for him to take it,” said William Kristol, a conservative Trump critic. “One of those excuses is attacking the person who was murdered.” . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

18 October 2018 at 8:12 pm

GOP Senator Pushed VA to Use Unproven “Brainwave Frequency” Treatment

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The GOP is certainly corrupt. Isaac Arnsdorf reports in ProPublica:

Sen. Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican, pushed doctors at the Veterans Affairs medical center in Reno to adopt an experimental mental health treatment marketed by a company with ties to his office.

On a Friday night last December in his Reno office, Heller, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced VA officials to representatives from a health care startup called CereCare. The company markets an “off-label” method of treating addiction and post-traumatic stress, using electromagnetic brain stimulation.

The meeting came about because two of CereCare’s partners had a business connection to Heller’s senior aide in Reno. “We’ve known her for years,” one of the partners, Nino Pedrini, said of the aide, Glenna Smith. Pedrini and his partner have a separate joint venture with Smith’s former employer. “This was Glenna reaching out to us, knowing what we were doing, saying we think there’s a fit here where you folks can help our veterans,” Pedrini said.

Smith declined to answer questions about her role in arranging the meeting; she said she has never had a financial interest in Pedrini’s companies.

The Trump administration is encouraging the VA to use more alternative treatments, even though doctors and mental health experts caution against steering patients to procedures that haven’t been scientifically demonstrated to be safe and effective. The administration’s enthusiasm for such experimental treatments has opened the door to a flood of hopeful vendors like CereCare.

Heller declined to answer specific questions about the meeting. In a statement, he said he “will never apologize for supporting policies that could lead to additional treatment options for Nevada veterans because no one who has served this country should be waiting for care once they return from combat.”

Heller co-sponsored a bill directing the VA to start a pilot program on CereCare’s procedure. Another of CereCare’s partners, Judi Kosterman, participated in drafting the legislation, she said in an interview. Kosterman described herself as CereCare’s expert on the procedure, and her business card identified her as “Dr.” She is not a physician and her doctorate is in education, according to official records.

The bill says it provides no additional funding, so the pilot program would come at the expense of other treatments that are already proven to be effective. For that reason, it drew opposition from Veterans of Foreign Wars, which represents 1.6 million members. “The VFW believes that VA must spend its already scarce health care resources on therapies that have shown promise or have a proven track record,” the organization told Congress. Other veterans groups, such as Amvets and Vietnam Veterans of America, supported the bill because they said the treatment is worth trying. The Senate veterans committee hasn’t voted on the bill.

The procedure that CereCare was pitching to the VA uses electrical scans of the brain and heart to detect a patient’s “intrinsic brainwave frequency” and find “the area of the brain in need of restoration,” according to materials brought to the meeting. CereCare then uses that data to apply electromagnetic pulses from a machine called a transcranial magnetic stimulator.

This procedure is off-label, meaning it uses equipment approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but in a way that is not approved by the agency. Off-label procedures are not uncommon or illegal, but the FDA has not signed off on their safety or effectiveness. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 October 2018 at 12:51 pm

Trump may be a Saudi patsy, but these people aren’t

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Jennifer Rubin has a strong column:

The Post reports:

The growing number of Western companies distancing themselves from Saudi Arabia over the alleged killing of dissident Jamal Khashoggi is undermining the kingdom’s push to diversify its economy beyond oil and provide more opportunities for its young and often restive population.

By Friday afternoon, nearly a dozen tech, media and entertainment companies had backed out of a Saudi investment conference to be held this month, as dismay over Saudi agents’ alleged murder of Khashoggi spread to companies that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has tried to woo. . . .

Tech investor Steve Case said he was suspending plans to attend the conference and a meeting for a Saudi tourism project. Bob Bakish, chief executive of Viacom Inc., owner of MTV and movie studio Paramount Pictures, also said through a spokesman Thursday he would no longer be attending the conference. . . .

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson was one of the first non-journalism executives to break with the Saudis. “I had high hopes for the current government in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and it is why I was delighted to accept two directorships in the tourism projects around the Red Sea,” Branson said in a blog post Thursday.

Good for them. The next step should be for think tanks, universities and press outlets to disclose their Saudi funding, if any, and disentangle themselves from the repressive regime that does not value intellectual or press freedom. In fact, Congress should hold hearings to determine the extent of Saudi influence-buying in the United States — including their dealings with President Trump and his family.

Trump is promising to talk to King Salman — though there is no set date for their chat, and no looming threat of U.S. retaliation. It was not until Saturday that we heard anything emphatic on the subject. (“We’re going to get to the bottom of it, and there will be severe punishment,” he said in a 60 Minutes interview, clips of which were released on Saturday.) We can surmise that his generally mild reaction to the apparent killing of a journalist might have had to do with Trump’s business interests. He may simply have too much to lose to take on the Saudi regime. If Democrats take control of the House, they should end Trump’s free ride on foreign emoluments, vote to disallow them, and then proceed to investigate his holdings and pursue divestiture. (Trump’s lack of urgency also might be nothing more than Trump’s gullibility in the face of the Saudis’ charm campaign. He is a sucker for repressive regimes that fawn over him.)

Whatever the reason for Trump’s belated reaction, Congress can and should proceed to reexamine our arm sales (while the administration professes satisfaction with the Saudis’ efforts to avoid civilian casualties in Yemen, human rights groups cite mass casualties). We must signal in a meaningful way that we will no longer tolerate Saudi Arabia’s repression at home and excesses in the region.

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) has it absolutely right: If appropriate, we should apply Global Magnitsky Act sanctions to any Saudi  official involved in what appears to be an abhorrent human rights atrocity. Cardin also urged:

Congress could consider the outcome of ongoing investigations when debating future U.S. arms sales to the kingdom, future International Military Education and Training assistance, and future U.S. support to the Saudi coalition’s role in the Yemen conflict — one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. We should also weigh the kingdom’s support for a truly transparent investigation when considering potential U.S.-Saudi nuclear power cooperation.

Meanwhile, during an interview this past week with Hugh Hewitt, national security adviser John Bolton sounded less than alarmed about the Saudis conduct. “Well, I don’t think we, we’ve known enough. I spoke with the crown prince [Thursday] along with Jared Kushner, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, spoke to the crown prince as well. The president has spoken to this issue,” he said. “It is something we need to get resolved. And we need to do it as soon as possible.” Resolved? Does he think there has been some mix-up the Saudis can clarify in a phone call? Bolton’s utter disinterest in human rights — with the exception of Iran — is among his many disconcerting attributes.

In sum, Trump’s slow-motion reaction . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 October 2018 at 1:38 pm

No Wonder It Works So Well: There May Be Viagra In That Herbal Supplement

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Ronnie Cohen reports at NPR:

They claim to help you sleep, make your hair grow, speed weight loss, improve your sex life and ward off the nasty cold going around the office. Though it’s often impossible to tell if dietary supplements work, consumers generally feel certain they can’t hurt.

But they can.

The Food and Drug Administration has identified hundreds of supplements tainted with pharmaceuticals — from antidepressants and erectile dysfunction remedies to weight-loss drugs — since 2007, a study published Friday shows. Even after FDA tests proved the supplements contained unapproved or recalled medications, many of the products continued to be marketed and sold, the analysis finds.

The report in JAMA Network Open calls into question the FDA’s ability to effectively police the $35-billion-a-year supplements industry.

“The FDA didn’t even bother to recall more than half of the potentially hazardous supplements,” says Dr. Pieter Cohen, a Harvard Medical School professorand an internist with Cambridge Health Alliance in Boston, who wrote an accompanying commentary in the journal.

“How could it be that our premier public health agency spends the time and money to detect these hidden ingredients and then doesn’t take the next obvious step, which is to ensure that they are removed from the marketplace?” he asks.

The FDA does not comment on specific studies “but evaluates them as part of the body of evidence to further our understanding about a particular issue and assist in our mission to protect public health,” says Lindsay Haake, a press officer for the regulatory agency.

For the study, researchers from the California Department of Public Health and other state agencies examined an FDA database containing supplements that the FDA has purchased, tested and found to be adulterated. The FDA identified 746 supplement products that were pharmaceutically adulterated from 2007 through 2016.

Adulterants included unapproved antidepressants and designer steroids, the prescription erectile-dysfunction drug sildenafil, and a prescription appetite suppressant its manufacturer withdrew from the market after a study linked it to heightened risk of stroke and heart attack.

Although the FDA has the power to recall tainted supplements, the federal agency failed to require any of the 146 companies that manufactured the adulterated products to remove them from the market.

In 360 cases, manufacturers announced a voluntarily recall of the tainted supplements, though there is no way of knowing if the products actually were recalled, Cohen says. In 342 cases, the agency posted a notice on its website warning the public about the tainted supplements.

Only in seven cases did the FDA issue a warning letter nudging the manufacturer to remove the adulterated products. Before the FDA could seize a supplement and destroy it, it would have to send a warning letter to the manufacturer, Cohen says.

The study’s authors write that they find it “alarming” that the adulterated supplements continue to be sold.

“This report shines a harsh light on the problem of adulteration,” says Dr. Peter Lurie, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group. Lurie was not involved in the research. “It’s a very disturbing picture. You’ve got hundreds of these products that contain active pharmaceuticals, many of which pose a real threat to human health.”

Some of the drugs slipped into supplements without appearing on the label can have dangerous interactions with other medications people may be taking. For instance, drugs such as sildenafil may interact with other drugs to lower or raise blood pressure to dangerous levels. Others, including anabolic steroids present in some muscle-building products, have been associated with liver and kidney damage, heart attacks and strokes.

“The study lays a foundation for ongoing enforcement work in this area, by the FDA and other partner agencies, to curb the illegal manufacture, importation, distribution and sales of adulterated dietary supplements,” the California Department of Public Health said in a written statement.

More than half of American adults take supplements such as vitamins, minerals, protein powders, botanicals, fish oils, glandular extracts and probiotics. Under a 1994 law, the U.S. government reclassified supplements as food rather than food additives. The law exempts supplements from any of the premarket safety and effectiveness testing the FDA requires for drugs.

In the 24 years since the law took effect, the supplements industry has boomed.

“The underlying problem is this is a huge industry with fly-by-night actors, and it’s completely impossible for the agency to keep up with them,” says Lurie, who worked at the FDA for eight years. “We’d all like to see the agency doing more. In some cases it has limited authority. In other cases it has limited resources.” . . .

Continue reading.

The obvious answer: a stiff Federal tax on supplements with the proceeds directed toward beefing up the part of the FDA that monitors supplements, plus very stiff fines for manufacturers who have adulterated supplements with unsafe ingredients, the fines likewise going to the FDA. A Democratic Congress might do this; a Republican Congress, never.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 October 2018 at 8:37 am

Less than 1% of rapes lead to felony convictions. At least 89% of victims face emotional and physical consequences.

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It’s amazing to me how many people view men as the victims in sexual assault cases. Andrew Van Dam reports in the Washington Post:

The consequences of sexual assault fall overwhelmingly on the victims.
About 0.7 percent of rapes and attempted rapes end with a felony conviction for the perpetrator, according to an estimate based on the best of the imperfect measures available.
On the other side of the incident, at least 89 percent of victims report some level of distress, including high rates of physical injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and substance abuse.
There has been much wringing of hands about the damage done to American men by accusations of sexual assault, as brilliantly chronicled this week by The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Robert Costa.
But any fretting on behalf of those accused of assault should take into account research that shows that millions of victims of sexual assault have paid a serious, measurable price, physically and mentally.

Less than a third of rape incidents are reported to the police, according to an analysis by the nonprofit advocacy group RAINN (the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), which combined Justice Department National Crime Victimization Surveys from 2010 to 2014 with other federal data to track what happened to perpetrators.
Just 5.7 percent of incidents end in arrest, 0.7 percent result in a felony conviction and 0.6 percent result in incarceration, RAINN found. The organization’s website notes these figures are approximations, not scientific estimates, because their analysis “combines data from studies with different methodologies.”
The specter of false accusation looms large in the backlash chronicled by Rucker and Costa, but a 2009 review of research from around the world, based on credible sources, indicates only between 2 and 8 percent of all sexual assault reports were false. Again, the research looks only at reported incidents. Most incidents aren’t reported.

Not only do rape and sexual assault typically go unreported, but definitions also vary, and many of the mental and physical effects are slow to manifest and challenging to detect. Survey findings vary based on how questions are phrased and what population is surveyed.
Almost 9 out of every 10 sexual assault victims experience some level of distress, with 46 percent experiencing severe distress — a higher number than we see among victims of robbery or aggravated assault, according to an analysis by Justice Department statisticians Lynn Langton and Jennifer Truman of 2009-2012 figures from the massive annual crime victimization survey mentioned above. Other sources place the figure even higher.
Three-quarters of victims experience significant social and emotional problems in the wake of assault — at work or school and with friends and family. About 58 percent of victims are injured in the assault, suffering some combination of cuts, bruises, broken bones, gunshot wounds, internal injuries and rape injuries. More than a third of victims are injured badly enough to require treatment, typically in a hospital.
A 2009 literature review in the journal Trauma, Violence & Abuse by Rebecca Campbell, Emily Dworkin and Giannina Cabral found “rape is one of the most severe of all traumas, causing multiple, long-term negative outcomes.” Patterns remained consistent over time, which allowed them to include more than two decades of research.
The relevant studies found between 17 and 65 percent of women (they specify gender in this specific case) who have been assaulted develop PTSD. It is later noted that the 17 percent is an outlier on the low end. Most studies find somewhere between 33 and 45 percent.
As many as 82 percent of victims experience  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2018 at 7:17 am

Saudi crown prince bragged that Jared Kushner gave him CIA intelligence about other Saudis saying ‘here are your enemies’ days before ‘corruption crackdown’ which led to torture and death

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And Donald Trump handed code-word intelligence to Russian officials in the Oval Office. The White House currently is occupied by extremely ignorant people. Ryan Parry and Josh Boswell report in the Daily Mail:

  • Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Jared Kushner in October
  • Salman has since bragged about using classified intelligence from Kushner as part of a crackdown on ‘corrupt’ princes and businessmen in Saudi Arabia
  • He said the intelligence from Kushner included information on those who were disloyal to Salman and who were his ‘enemies’, insiders tell DailyMail
  • Kushner’s attorney’s spokesman said it was ‘false’ that the president’s son-in-law passed on secrets and that he was ‘well aware of the rules’
  • The crown prince launched his crackdown on corruption in November, days after he met Kushner for talks in Riyadh
  • Hundreds were rounded up, including princes from rival parts of the Saudi royal family and some of the country’s wealthiest businessmen
  • But the crackdown saw accusations of torture and at least one reported death

Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman bragged of receiving classified US intelligence from Jared Kushner and using it as part of a purge of ‘corrupt’ princes and businessmen, DailyMail.com can disclose.

The de facto ruler of the Middle East’s largest economy is currently on a US tour which has seen him meet President Donald Trump in the White House, hold talks with a string of the country’s richest and most influential people and book the entire Four Seasons in Beverly Hills for himself and his entourage.

Sources have told DailyMail.com that the prince – known by his initials MBS – has been boasting about his close relationship with the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and the intelligence which he has told his circle Kushner passed to him.

The crackdown on ‘corruption’ in the Saudi kingdom was led by MBS and began in November, days after he had met Kushner for talks in Riyadh.

But it saw allegations of torture as hundreds were rounded up, including princes from rival parts of the Saudi royal family and some of the country’s wealthiest businessmen.

DailyMail.com revealed a photograph showing the detainees sleeping on the floor of a ballroom at the Riyadh Ritz Carlton, and disclosed that some had been tortured.

The New York Times later reported that one of the detainees had died from his injuries.

Most are said to have reached ‘settlements’ with the Saudi government, and MBS himself boasted in a 60 Minutes interview that the government had regained at least $100 billion from them.

Kushner claimed through his attorney Abbe Lowell that it was a ‘false story’.

Peter Mirijanian, Lowell’s spokesman, said: ‘The alleged exchange never happened. Mr Kushner was and is well aware of the rules governing information and follows those rules.’

Despite Kushner’s denial sources have told DailyMail.com how MBS boasted in private that Kushner was the source of intelligence used in the round-up.

He also told members of his circle that the intelligence included information on who was disloyal to him. There is no way to independently verify the truth of the boast.

‘Jared took a list out of names from US eavesdrops of people who were supposedly MBS’s enemies,’ said one source, characterizing how MBS spoke about the information.

‘He took a list out of these people who had been trashing MBS in phone calls, and said ‘these are the ones who are your enemies’.

MBS was actually bragging about it in Saudi Arabia when it happened, that he and Jared sat up until 4am discussing things, and Jared brought him this list.’

The Riyadh source said: ‘They sat for several hours together. They literally laid out the future map of the entire region, that’s why they stayed up to the early hours of the morning from the afternoon before.’

The intelligence allegedly discussed during Kushner’s visit to the Middle East last October was said to have came from U.S. wiretaps on conversations between Arab royals in hotels in London, in major U.S. cities and even on yachts docked close to Monte Carlo, a favorite playground of the super-rich.

A separate source told DailyMail.com that it was being said in the Gulf that the president’s son-in-law took a copy of information from the daily intelligence briefing provided by the intelligence community to the White House, and shared its contents with MBS.

The intelligence named several family members who were opposed to his rise, it was said.

‘Kushner got hold of an intelligence briefing,’ said the Riyadh palace source, recounting the version which originated with MBS. ‘At that time he had a high level of security clearance and had access to that. He copied it and provided its contents to MBS.

‘The CIA are doing their job by briefing the president on what is happening internationally.

‘This is a briefing by the CIA to tell the president that some members of the Saudi royal family are plotting in this and that country.

‘Kushner took that part of the briefing and flew to Saudi Arabia to impress MBS.’

The disclosure comes after The Intercept reported that Kushner had a late night meeting with Salman and discussed the names of Saudis who opposed his power grab.

MBS bragged to his closest regional ally, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed – the de facto joint ruler of the United Arab Emirates – and others that Kushner was ‘in his pocket,’ a source told The Intercept.

Access to the president’s daily brief is closely guarded, but Trump has the legal authority to allow Kushner to disclose information contained in it as the president is the ultimate declassifying authority and legally free to do so at any time.

However if Kushner, 37, had passed on names to the Saudis, the move would be a stunning intervention by the US into the internal affairs of an allied nation.

If Trump’s son-in-law, however, discussed the names with the Saudi prince without Trump’s specific permission, he may have violated federal laws around the sharing of classified intelligence.

Kushner’s access to intelligence is an issue which has come to bedevil the White House.

He has been unable to secure a permanent security clearance, for reasons which remain unknown.

In February chief of staff John Kelly moved to prevent any White House official with only interim security clearance from having access to top secret/sensitive compartmented information, meaning Kushner can only access ‘top secret’ material. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 October 2018 at 7:04 pm

The decline of the moral authority of the US: The Five-Year-Old Who Was Detained at the Border and Persuaded to Sign Away Her Rights

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Sarah Stillman reports in the New Yorker:

Helen—a smart, cheerful five-year-old girl—is an asylum seeker from Honduras. This summer, when a social worker asked her to identify her strengths, Helen shared her pride in “her ability to learn fast and express her feelings and concerns.” She also recounted her favorite activities (“playing with her dolls”), her usual bedtime (“8 p.m.”), and her professional aspirations (“to be a veterinarian”).

In July, Helen fled Honduras with her grandmother, Noehmi, and several other relatives; gangs had threatened Noehmi’s teen-age son, Christian, and the family no longer felt safe. Helen’s mother, Jeny, had migrated to Texas four years earlier, and Noehmi planned to seek legal refuge there. With Noehmi’s help, Helen travelled thousands of miles, sometimes on foot, and frequently fell behind the group. While crossing the Rio Grande in the journey’s final stretch, Helen slipped from their raft and risked drowning. Her grandmother grabbed her hand and cried, “Hang on, Helen!” When the family reached the scrubland of southern Texas, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended them and moved them through a series of detention centers. A month earlier, the Trump Administration had announced, amid public outcry over its systemic separation of migrant families at the border, that it would halt the practice. But, at a packed processing hub, Christian was taken from Noehmi and placed in a cage with toddlers. Noehmi remained in a cold holding cell, clutching Helen. Soon, she recalled, a plainclothes official arrived and informed her that she and Helen would be separated. “No!” Noehmi cried. “The girl is under my care! Please!”

Noehmi said that the official told her, “Don’t make things too difficult,” and pulled Helen from her arms. “The girl will stay here,” he said, “and you’ll be deported.” Helen cried as he escorted her from the room and out of sight. Noehmi remembers the authorities explaining that Helen’s mother would be able to retrieve her, soon, from wherever they were taking her.

Later that day, Noehmi and Christian were reunited. The adults in the family were fitted with electronic ankle bracelets and all were released, pending court dates. They left the detention center and rushed to Jeny’s house, in McAllen, hoping to find Helen there. When they didn’t, Noehmi began to shake, struggling to explain the situation. “Immigration took your daughter,” she told Jeny.

“But where did they take her?” Jeny asked.

“I don’t know,” Noehmi replied.

The next day, authorities—likely from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (O.R.R.)—called to say that they were holding Helen at a shelter near Houston; according to Noehmi, they wouldn’t say exactly where. Noehmi and Jeny panicked. Unable to breathe amid her distress, Noehmi checked herself into a local hospital, where doctors gave her medication to calm her down. “I thought we would never see her again,” Noehmi said. She couldn’t square her family’s fate with the TV news, which insisted that the government had stopped separating migrant families.

Helen had been brought to Baytown, a shelter run by Baptist Child & Family Services, which the federal government had contracted to house unaccompanied minors. Helen was given a pack of crayons and spent the summer coloring patriotic images: busts of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the torch on the Statue of Liberty. She was granted an hour of “Large Muscle Activity and Leisure Time” each day, and received lessons on the human respiratory system, the history of music, and “the risk and danger of social media.” “Helen,” a caseworker observed, “has excellent behavior at all times.” She had no major sources of stress, her reports noted, aside from “being separated from her family.” Her teachers encouraged her to develop “smartgoals”—ambitions that are “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.” Helen’s goal was simple: “Minor disclosed wanting to live with her mother and family in the U.S.”

According to a long-standing legal precedent known as the Flores settlement, which established guidelines for keeping children in immigration detention, Helen had a right to a bond hearing before a judge; that hearing would have likely hastened her release from government custody and her return to her family. At the time of her apprehension, in fact, Helen checked a box on a line that read, “I do request an immigration judge,” asserting her legal right to have her custody reviewed. But, in early August, an unknown official handed Helen a legal document, a “Request for a Flores Bond Hearing,” which described a set of legal proceedings and rights that would have been difficult for Helen to comprehend. (“In a Flores bond hearing, an immigration judge reviews your case to determine whether you pose a danger to the community,” the document began.) On Helen’s form, which was filled out with assistance from officials, there is a checked box next to a line that says, “I withdraw my previous request for a Flores bond hearing.” Beneath that line, the five-year-old signed her name in wobbly letters.

As the summer progressed with no signs of Helen’s return, Noehmi and Jeny contacted lupe, a nonprofit community union based in the Rio Grande Valley, to ask for help winning Helen’s release. Founded by the famed activists César Chávez and Dolores Huerta in 1989, lupe fights deportations, provides social services, and organizes civil mobilizations on behalf of more than eight thousand low-income members across south Texas; Jeny, employed as an office cleaner, was one such member. Tania Chavez, a strategy leader forthe organization, met with the family to hear their story.

Helen’s case didn’t fit the typical lupe mold. “Historically, we have served longtime residents of the Rio Grande Valley,” Chavez told me, “but since this new surge of refugees came about, we’ve been on the front lines of advocacy against family separation.” Freeing Helen struck Chavez as a tangible and urgent goal. “Right away, we said, ‘How do we help this little girl?’ ” she said. As Chavez saw it, the girl’s seizure by the government showed that the family-separation crisis hadn’t been resolved, as many Americans believed—it had simply evolved.

The first stage of the family-separation crisis unfolded largely out of public view, not long after Trump took office. By January, 2018, when I began collecting the stories of parents who had been separated from their children at the border, the government denied that these separations were happening without clear justifications, and insisted that they weren’t encouraged by official policy. In the late spring, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, was still espousing this line, even as she ramped up “zero tolerance” prosecutions—criminally charging parents with “illegal entry,” and seizing their kids in the process.

Stage two of the crisis unfolded in the national spotlight. As the number of separations soared past two thousand, and their wrenching details surfaced, hundreds of thousands of Americans protested in the streets. Laura Bush said that the practice broke her heart. The American Academy of Pediatrics denounced it as “abhorrent,” noting that the approach could inflict long-term, irrevocable trauma on children. On June 20th, the President issued an executive order purporting to end the practice.

Now stage three has commenced—one in which separations are done quietly, lupe’s Tania Chavez asserts, and in which reunifications can be mysteriously stymied. According to recent Department of Justice numbers—released because of an ongoing A.C.L.U. lawsuit challenging family separations—a hundred and thirty-six children who fall within the lawsuit’s scope are still in government custody. An uncounted number of separated children in shelters and foster care fall outside the lawsuit’s current purview—including many like Helen, who arrived with a grandparent or other guardian, rather than with a parent. Many such children have been misclassified, in government paperwork, as “unaccompanied minors,” due to a sloppy process that the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General recently critiqued. Chavez believes that, through misclassification, many kids have largely disappeared from public view, and from official statistics, with the federal government showing little urgency to hasten reunifications. (O.R.R. and U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not respond to requests for comment.)

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Written by LeisureGuy

12 October 2018 at 11:57 am

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