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January 25, 2016
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In an op-ed, President Obama said he is adopting recommendations from the Justice Department to reform the federal prison system, including banning solitary confinement for juveniles as a response to low-level infractions.

Other reforms include expanding treatment for the mentally ill and increasing the amount of time inmates in solitary confinement can spend outside of their cells. "These steps will affect some 10,000 federal prisoners held in solitary confinement — and hopefully serve as a model for state and local corrections systems," Obama wrote in The Washington Post. He explained that last summer, he asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Department of Justice to review the overuse of solitary confinement in the United States, and they found that "the practice should be limited, applied with constraints, and used only as a measure of last resort."

As many as 100,000 people are held in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, the president wrote, and research suggests there is a link between being in solitary and "depression, alienation, [and] withdrawal." Prisoners in solitary are more likely to commit suicide, and some studies show that it can make existing mental illnesses worse and trigger new ones. Obama wrote that his "most important job is to keep Americans safe," and overall crime rates have "decreased by more than 15 percent." However, "how can we subject prisoners to unnecessary solitary confinement, knowing its effects, and then expect them to return to our communities as whole people? It doesn't make us safer. It's an affront to our common humanity."

He also said members of Congress are working together to reform sentencing laws and expand reentry programs, and he hopes they will send him "legislation as soon as possible that makes our criminal justice system smarter, fairer, less expensive, and more effective." Catherine Garcia

10:01 a.m. ET
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After more than half a century of conflict, the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) will announce a ceasefire Sunday to take effect at midnight local time. The two sides signed a historic peace agreement after negotiations in Havana, Cuba, on Wednesday, an accord Colombian voters will be able to approve or reject in an October referendum.

Colombians reacted to the news of peace with a mixture of hope and skepticism. "It is the opportunity to end a cycle of this terrible violence," said musician Julio Correal, who has worked on a state-led project to promote a cessation of hostilities. "It will not be easy — it has never been easy — but it is easier than a war scenario."

The 52 years of fighting between FARC and the government in Bogotá have claimed an estimated 260,000 lives and caused millions more to leave their homes. Bonnie Kristian

8:41 a.m. ET
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Supported by Turkish airstrikes, Syrian rebels seized territory from Kurdish-led fighters in northern Syria on Sunday. The attacks killed at least 35 people, most of them civilians in the villages that changed hands.

This offensive is part of a new escalation of Turkish involvement in neighboring Syria's conflict, intervention which includes fighting both the Islamic State and the Kurds. This weekend's airstrikes were the first time Turkish forces have targeted Kurdish militias in Syria, though Turkey's government has fought a Kurdish insurgency within its own borders for some time.

This dual opposition complicates matters for the United States, as Turkey is a NATO ally helping in the war on ISIS, and some anti-ISIS Syrian rebels are backed by the CIA — but the Kurdish forces Turkey is killing also oppose ISIS and are funded, armed, and trained by the Pentagon. Bonnie Kristian

8:16 a.m. ET
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The media "has missed the whole point on immigration" and distorts his remarks to create confusion about immigration policy, Republican Donald Trump said Saturday afternoon while speaking in Iowa.

Trump's comments moved away from the softer tone he adopted in recent days, proposing a tracking system for visa recipients as well as the swift removal of "criminal, illegal immigrants" — phrasing which leaves unclear whether he is again proposing mass deportation of 11 million people.

In an interview published Saturday, Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, argued the candidate's variation on this issue is "a classic CEO process" of developing an effective plan with a diversity of input. "At the end of the day, when [Trump] articulates a position, it’s going to be very much consistent with the priorities that he's laid forth and that have really resonated with millions of Americans," Pence said.

Since I wouldn't want to "take phrases and statements, chop them up, take them out of context," as Trump accused the media of doing on Saturday, here is a link to watch his entire speech. Bonnie Kristian

August 27, 2016
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Democrat Hillary Clinton spent Saturday morning at an FBI office near her home in New York receiving her first classified briefing as a nominee for president.

The two-hour meeting came about a week and a half after Republican Donald Trump received a similar intelligence update, attended by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. The briefings are conducted by staff of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and held in special rooms called Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities.

Though such meetings have been used to prepare nominees for a smooth transition into office for more than half a century, opponents of both candidates this election cycle have questioned their respective fitness to receive such valuable information. Clinton's critics pointed to her private email server scandal as evidence that she cannot be trusted with classified documents, while Trump's detractors suggested he is too loose-lipped to handle sensitive data. Bonnie Kristian

August 27, 2016

If you have clear skies just after sunset on Saturday, August 27, look west to see Venus and Jupiter so close on the horizon they almost appear to merge into a single light.

This rare astronomical event is called an "appulse," which is when two celestial bodies appear from Earth's vantage point to approach each other as closely as possible — in this case, with less than one degree between the two planets.

Venus and Jupiter will not come this close again for nearly five decades — the next comparable conjunction will appear in 2065 — and Saturday's light show will be bright enough to view with the naked eye, weather permitting. Bonnie Kristian

August 27, 2016
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Donald Trump took to Twitter Saturday morning to boast that African-American voters will support him come Election Day — and had he stopped there, it would have been just another example of Trump's awkward minority outreach efforts.

Instead, however, he cited the fatal shooting of Nykea Aldridge, cousin of Chicago Bulls shooting guard Dwyane Wade. The mother of four was killed by stray gunfire Friday, and Trump — while misspelling Wade's first name — said her death is one reason black Americans will give him their votes.

Trump was roundly criticized for his tweet after it went live. Actor Don Cheadle tweeted, "You are truly a POS," while The Washington Post's Philip Bump nailed the post's inappropriate tone: "It comes off not as a thoughtful statement of concern for a tragedy that needs to be fixed and more as an attempt to leverage a murder into a campaign slogan." Bonnie Kristian

August 27, 2016
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At least 17 Kyrgyz migrant workers were killed and four more injured Saturday when a printing warehouse in Moscow, Russia, caught fire. The blaze was put out after two hours.

The fire was caused by a broken lamp on the first floor, said Ilya Denisov, chief of Moscow's emergency services, and then spread upstairs through an elevator shaft. The victims are all believed to be young women who were trapped while putting on their work uniforms.

"Most of them were in Moscow to earn money," said Abdygani Shakirov, who works at a local Kyrgyz community organization. "They were in the dressing room and were unable to get out. The smoke had blocked the exit." Bonnie Kristian

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