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September 30, 2013

Good news, Star Wars fans. Physicists from MIT and Harvard have engineered a new form of matter that behaves "just like a lightsaber," said Adam Clark Estes at Gizmodo. Scientists managed to clump together photons — massless particles of light that don't normally interact with one another — to form a molecule. When two lasers are aimed at one another, their beams typically pass through one another. But the "photonic molecules" created here "push against and deflect each other," said Harvard physicist Mikhail Lukin. "The physics of what's happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies." Chris Gayomali

7:53 a.m. ET

President Trump's "zero tolerance" border policy made the front pages of New York City's two main tabloids, the New York Post and the Daily News, and neither newspaper seemed pleased with the policy's de facto separation of children from their parents. The Post, whose sister publication The Wall Street Journal condemned Trump's policy in an editorial Monday night, picked some cage imagery and cited the Bible. And unlike Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Post quoted Jesus, not one of his followers.

The Daily News mostly lets the image do the talking.

Separating migrant children from parents as part of Trump's border policy is widely unpopular — a CNN/SRSS poll Monday evening confirmed that a sizable majority of Americans (67 percent) disapprove of the policy while 28 percent approve, but a majority of Republicans (56 percent) support "zero tolerance" and all it entails. That poll was conducted by phone June 14 among 1,012 adults, and it has a margin of sampling error of ±3.7 percentage points. The New York tabloid sample is two, but disapproval is 100 percent. Peter Weber

7:22 a.m. ET
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump will meet with Republican House leaders on Tuesday ahead of a planned floor vote on two immigration bills, CNN reports. The White House officially supports both proposals: A more conservative bill written by Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R), which is expected to fall far short of passing, and a compromise bill that would give Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients a path to citizenship and put $25 billion toward border security and the border wall.

Trump, though, has wavered on the compromise bill that his staff helped negotiate. "Just the slip of the tongue by the president and you can blow this whole thing up," said one Republican aide. Politico writes that "in reality" Trump will arrive at the immigration meeting and "get an earful about the family-separation issue." Jeva Lange

6:55 a.m. ET

In May, the Trump administration rolled out a program it had been testing since last summer to charge everyone crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without proper documents with illegal entry, even asylum-seekers, a policy that "ends up systematically separating families because children can't go with their parents who are being detained by the U.S. Marshals," BuzzFeed News' Adolfo Flores explains. "But people charged with illegal entry go before a judge within days or weeks of their detention and are usually sentenced to time served for the misdemeanor. There appears to be no set procedure for what happens with parent and child after that."

Once the children are separated, they are handed over to the Health and Human Services Department's Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) "and treated as though they traveled to the U.S. alone," The New Yorker's Jonathan Blitzer adds. "No protocols have been put in place for keeping track of parents and children concurrently, for keeping parents and children in contact with each other while they are separated, or for eventually reuniting them. Immigration lawyers, public defenders, and advocates along the border have been trying to fill the void."

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman Danielle Bennett told BuzzFeed News that "reunification typically does not occur until the removal stage of the process," and "the logistics of the reunification are made on a case-by-case basis." She declined to provide any statistics or give any examples of children successfully reunited with parents, saying, "We don't have any metrics to provide at this point and we wouldn't proactively give examples of this." Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen doesn't seem clear on some details, either.

Immigrant advocates say if there is a policy to track or reunite families, it isn't working on the ground. Peter Weber

5:13 a.m. ET

The big political story is still President Trump's policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, plus Trump's continued insistence on falsely blaming the Democrats. The Late Show highlighted the absurdity of Trump's talking point with a parody of his Monday morning news conference featuring Friday the 13th's Jason Voorhees, who also blamed the Democrats for his murderous machete rampages of teen campers.

Stephen Colbert read one of Trump's tweet blaming the Democrats and imagined a cheer to go with his "WIN!" coda: "'Two, four, six, eight, who do we incarcerate? Kids! Gooooo into the cages.' Yeah, ended sad, didn't it," he said. "There are two things wrong with this. One, if it was a law, Republicans are in control of everything — they can fix it. Second of all, it's not a law. This is a policy. It's just another scoop from your chum bucket of cruelty." Trump defended his policy at a Space Force announcement Monday, saying the U.S. "will not be a migrant camp" and "will not be a refugee holding facility." "No, it will be the all-baby reboot of The Shawshank Redemption," Colbert said, and he had a movie poster.

"Not everyone in the administration blames this policy on the Democrats; some say the policy doesn't even exist," Colbert said, specifically pointing to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Others, like Stephen Miller, tout it loud and proud. Fox & Friends is happy to call a "cage" a "security pen," and Border Patrol says the "cage" description is accurate but uncomfortable-making. "Oh, it's accurate — that's what's making them uncomfortable," Colbert said. "Trump's defenders are wrong, and they are bad, but it's important to give the Devil his due — he's a sponsor. So it's time for our new segment, 'The Devil's Advocate.'" Do not watch the last minute or so if you are on hallucinogenic drugs. Otherwise, the video's below. Peter Weber

4:07 a.m. ET

"On Saturday I was in Houston to play Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in what we called the Blobfish Basketball Classic, and just like a blobfish, the game was ugly, sloppy, and within moments, we were gasping for air," Jimmy Kimmel recalled on Monday's Kimmel Live. "We played one-on-one, it took almost an hour to get to 6 points — which would be a lot if this was a World Cup soccer game but it was not. When we agreed to play to 11, I didn't realize that meant 11:00."

"The game was very rough, there were nothing but fouls the whole game long," Kimmel said. "I have bruises all over my body — he kept poking me with his hooves." Six thousand people turned out to watch the game, which Gus Johnson and Isiah Thomas announced, and thankfully, Kimmel Live edited down the contest to a brisk 14 minutes. Kimmel even got in some policy questions among his trash-talking, and they raised $80,000 for charitable causes. You can watch the condensed action — or whatever — below. And don't miss Guillermo's wicked hook shot. Peter Weber

2:53 a.m. ET

The Wall Street Journal's editorial board tends to favor immigration for fiscal and business reasons, but on Monday night, the editorialists for Rupert Murdoch's flagship U.S. newspaper made the ethical and political case for Republicans to end President Trump's "zero tolerance" policy that separates children from parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. "Are Republicans trying to lose their majorities in Congress this November?" the editorial begins. "The party's internal feuding over immigration ... is fast becoming an election-year nightmare over separating immigrant children from their parents." The editorialists elaborate:

Trump officials are defending the policy as a deterrent to illegal entry, but surely they understand that separating parents from children is morally unacceptable and politically unsustainable. The immediate solution should be for the administration to end "zero-tolerance" until it can be implemented without dividing families. Congress can also act to allow migrants to be detained with children in facilities appropriate for families. Until that is possible, better to release those who have no criminal past rather than continue forced separation. [The Wall Street Journal]

Broadly, the editorial accuses GOP "immigration restrictionists" and Stephen Bannon of forcing the Republican Party to commit political seppuku. "The restrictionists don't want anything to pass because they want to use immigration to drive conservative turnout in November," the editorial board writes. "This is self-destructive politics. ... House control will be won or lost in swing districts where legalizing the Dreamers is popular and separating families isn't." The Journal appeals to Trump as well: "If Mr. Trump wants to lose the House and risk impeachment, he'll take Mr. Bannon's bad advice and keep giving Democrats a daily picture of children stripped from their parents."

Trump-agnostic New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd made a similar case by dubbing audio of separated children wailing for their parents over video of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defending the program. Peter Weber

1:59 a.m. ET
iStock

When Dawn Johnson and her partner, Kurt Casperson, bought a house in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, they did so having no idea that their new neighbor was family.

Johnson, 50, and Casperson moved in last June, and they quickly met their neighbors — Hillary and Lance Harris and their 5-year-old daughter, Stella. They shared a driveway, and Stella instantly felt a bond with Johnson, her mother said. "Stella was just so drawn to her," Hillary Harris told The Associated Press.

Harris, 31, was adopted as an infant, and in 2012 she received information about her birth parents. She found two half-brothers through her mother's side, but struggled to find two half-sisters listed in her father's obituary (he died in 2012). She knew she was searching for a Dawn Johnson, but the obituary had her living in Greenwood. It wasn't until she saw a delivery for her neighbors in their shared driveway that she learned Johnson's last name and realized that Dawn Johnson had been right next door.

Harris told AP she had no idea how to break the news to Johnson, but finally sent a text asking the name of her father. She responded with the name Harris was expecting, and their lives haven't been the same since. The families are now celebrating holidays and birthdays together, and just enjoying getting to know each other. "I can feel the love," Harris said. Johnson, who had no idea her father had another daughter, has shared pictures of him with Harris and introduced her to the other half-sister she was trying to locate. Catherine Garcia

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