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January 11, 2018
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In late December, the Health and Human Services Department canceled the contract of the organization that oversees the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices, a federal database of vetted and approved interventions to treat drug addiction and mental illness, The Washington Post reports. HHS officials froze the website in September, meaning no new treatments have been added in the past 90 days, and mental health and substance abuse specialists are both concerned about the database's future and confused as to why the Trump administration is changing the registry after 20 years.

Instead of an outside contractor, Development Services Group Inc., choosing which treatments are scientifically sound, the HHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and specifically its new National Mental Health and Substance Use Policy Laboratory, or Policy Lab, will run the registry. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said he was "concerned" by the change "and looking into it," and Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) said she was "shocked to learn that the NREPP contract has been terminated as an opioid epidemic continues to shake our nation" and is "determined to find out why SAMHSA has made such a mind-boggling decision."

Mental health professionals tell the Post they view the database as neutral, nonpartisan, and a crucial tool for choosing treatments, and they're worried moving it inside SAMHSA could politicize the treatment selection process. Agency spokesman Christopher Garrett said Wednesday that it's SAMHSA's job to "lead the efforts to rapidly institute evidence-based practices in all behavioral health treatment programs," and "the federal government should not be in the business of having a single contractor determine winners and losers in behavioral health care." In its email informing program participants its contract was canceled, Development Services Group said SAMHSA explained the decision as "for the convenience of the government." You can read more about the registry at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

1:18 p.m. ET

Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon resurfaced Sunday for an appearance on ABC's This Week to weigh in on, among other things, President Trump's honesty and what's wrong with the pope.

President Trump "has not always told the truth," host Jonathan Karl said while recalling Bannon's time in the White House, but Bannon disagreed. "I don't know that," Bannon replied. “This is another thing to demonize him." Karl pushed back: "You think the president has never lied?"

Bannon said he thinks exactly that. "Not to my knowledge, no," he answered. "Except when he called me Sloppy Steve."

Bannon also addressed the Trump administration's broadly condemned and not legally mandatory policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border. "It's zero tolerance. I don't think you have to justify it," he said. "We have a crisis on the southern border but the elites in the city ... want to manage situations to bad outcomes. And Donald Trump is not going to do that."

In contrast with his praise for Trump, Bannon, a professing Catholic, slammed Pope Francis for his approach to Europe's refugee crisis and labeled the Catholic Church "one of the worst instigators of this open borders policy." Watch those comments below. Bonnie Kristian

12:55 p.m. ET

"Chuck, let me just tell you, that nobody likes seeing babies ripped from their mothers' arms," White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on NBC Sunday of the Trump administration's separation of migrant families at the border. "As a mother, as a Catholic, as somebody who has got a conscience ... I will tell you that nobody likes this policy," she continued.. "You saw the president on camera that he wants this to end," she continued, "but ... Congress has to act."

As host Chuck Todd protested, the family separations are not required by law and were instituted by the Trump administration as an immigration deterrent. Some of the families affected have not crossed the border illegally but rather are following legal procedure to seek asylum. Congress only "has to act" in the sense that President Trump is using the unpopular policy as a bargaining chip to obtain the immigration bill he wants.

Watch an excerpt of Conway's comments below, or read her full remarks here. Bonnie Kristian

12:37 p.m. ET

President Trump on Twitter Sunday attacked critics of his recent summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, accusing them of dishonesty and petty partisanship. He specifically targeted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for censure and touted his agreement with Kim to end U.S.-South Korean "war games."

A Washington Post/ABC News poll published Sunday found most Americans are hopeful but skeptical about the summit's results and believe it is too soon to judge whether it is a success for the United States.

In other Sunday morning posts, Trump returned to such familiar themes as his distaste for The Washington Post, the health of the economy, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, which he again dubbed a "phony" "hoax" and a "witch hunt." Bonnie Kristian

11:59 a.m. ET
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President Trump will meet with House Republicans Tuesday evening to discuss immigration reform legislation. At issue is a compromise immigration bill that would fund Trump's promised border wall, impose new limits on immigration, formalize protections for young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children (those previously protected from deportation by the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] program), and end the Trump administration's policy of separating migrant families at the border.

This is the more moderate of the two bills proposed by the House GOP, both of which are due for a vote later this week. Trump signaled Friday morning he would not support the moderate plan, but the White House later said that was a misunderstanding.

If Trump does endorse the protections for DACA recipients, that would mark a major reversal from his April declaration that DACA "is dead." Bonnie Kristian

11:46 a.m. ET
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A rescue boat carrying hundreds of migrants, most of them Sub-Saharan Africans, docked in Spain Sunday after being denied permission to dock in Italy by the country's new populist coalition government, elected in part because of anger over the effects of the European Union's asylum policy. Malta also rejected the ship.

Managed by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and another aid group called SOS Mediterranee, the Aquarius initially headed to Italy after rescuing migrants off the coast of Libya. The journey from its intended docking point to Spain took a week, and several other ships, including an Italian coast guard boat, took on some of the 629 migrants to make the trip safer.

"This sad odyssey of the people on the Aquarius is another reminder that all people, regardless of their nationality or immigration status, should have access to basic assistance and protection," said Red Cross Secretary General Elhadj As Sy, who was on hand for the ship's arrival. "No human being is 'illegal,' and people who need help should receive help." Bonnie Kristian

10:46 a.m. ET

A shooting early Sunday at an all-night arts festival in Trenton, New Jersey, left 22 people injured and one of the two shooting suspects dead. The other suspect has been taken into custody. Among the wounded, four are in critical condition, one of them a 13-year-old boy. Some of those hurt were not shot but were injured in a stampede that occurred as festival patrons attempted to escape the violence.

The suspects have not been identified. Mercer County prosecutor Angelo Onofri reported later Sunday the shooting was linked to a "neighborhood beef" and had no connection to terrorism. Some eyewitnesses reported an argument and fistfight at the scene before gunfire rang out. "It absolutely could have been worse given the confined space and the number of shots that appear to have been fired," Onofri said.

"All shootings, whether larger or small, are a crisis," said Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson. "This isn't just a random act of violence. This is a public health issue."

This is a breaking news story and has been updated throughout. Bonnie Kristian

8:30 a.m. ET
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The government of Afghanistan has extended its historic ceasefire with the Taliban past the end of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, with which it was timed to coincide. Unlike the original deal, the extension is unilateral, though the government has urged the Taliban to reciprocate and begin peace talks.

However, this progress was marred Saturday evening by a suicide attack by the Islamic State in Nangarhar. The bomber targeted a gathering of civilians, Afghan forces, and Taliban fighters who were talking and taking selfies together. At least two dozen people were killed and another 54 wounded.

"This violence will not halt the peaceful gatherings in Nangarhar and around the country celebrating a long overdue cessation of hostilities and a chance for lasting peace, or undermine the strength and resolve of the Afghan people and the international commitment to Afghanistan," said U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Martin O'Donnell, a representative of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The Taliban ceasefire does not extend to foreign forces. Bonnie Kristian

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