Bad News
June 24, 2019

Last week, lawyers representing all detained migrant children under the 1997 Flores class-action settlement interviewed detained children at several facilities in Texas, and they brought along a local physician, Dr. Dolly Lucio Sevier. They all left with horror stories. "The conditions within which they are held could be compared to torture facilities," Lucio Sevier wrote in a medical declaration obtained by ABC News. She had assessed 39 children under age 18 at U.S. Customs and Border Protection's largest detention facility, Ursula, in McAllen, which she described to ABC News as feeling "worse than jail" and "lawless."

The unaccompanied minors, as young as 2 1/2 months old, endured "extreme cold temperatures, lights on 24 hours a day, no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water, or adequate food," Lucio Sevier wrote, and the teens said they had no access to hand-washing, which she described as "tantamount to intentionally causing the spread of disease." A flu outbreak at Ursula had sent five infants to the neonatal intensive care unit, and all the children Lucio Sevier saw showed signs of trauma.

Warren Binford, one of the Flores compliance lawyers who visited Border Patrol's facility in Clint, Texas, told The New Yorker about lice outbreaks, the punitive removal of mats and blankets when children lost one of two lice combs they were all using in one cell, and guards creating a food-plied "child boss" to keep other kids in line, among other disturbing incidents.

Binford told The New Yorker that "laws were being broken right and left" and almost all of the 350 children held at the Clint facility "have family members, including parents, in the United States, who are able to and want to take care of their children." Most of the kids were separated from family members, including parents, when crossing the border and lawfully seeking asylum. More than 700 children were separated from their parents between June 2018 and May, federal documents show, often with iffy legal justification. Peter Weber

May 11, 2018

Police in Scotland have found the body of a man believed to be Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison, who disappeared early Wednesday morning. The body was found at Port Edgar marina, on the banks of the Firth of Forth just west of Edinburgh; it has not yet been identified but Hutchison's family has been informed, BBC News reports. The 36-year-old musician was last seen leaving the Dakota Hotel in South Queensferry at about 1 a.m. Wednesday, two hours after he had tweeted: "Be so good to everyone you love. It's not a given. I'm so annoyed that it's not. I didn't live by that standard and it kills me. Please, hug your loved ones." And then: "I'm away now. Thanks."

Hutchison formed Frightened Rabbit with his brother Grant, and they released the first of their five albums in 2006. In a press conference Thursday, his family had said he was in a "very fragile state" recently and asked that he please "just come home." Peter Weber

April 23, 2018

Last July, the U.S. Secret Service arrested Travis Reinking, the 29-year-old suspect in Sunday's murder of four people at a Waffle House in Nashville, for being in a restricted area near the White House and refusing to leave, saying he wanted to meet President Trump. In the fall, state police in Illinois revoked Reinking's firearm license at the request of the FBI, and police took away four of his guns, including the AR-15 used in the Nashville shooting, authorities said.

Deputies returned the weapons to Reinking's father, Jeffrey Reinking, on the promise that he would "keep the weapons secure and out of the possession of Travis," Tazewell County, Illinois, Sheriff Robert Huston said Sunday, adding that based on past encounters with the younger Reinking, "there's certainly evidence that there's some sort of mental health issues involved." Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron said that Jeffrey Reinking "has now acknowledged giving them back to his son."

Reinking, who witnesses say fled the scene of the crime naked, is still on the run, and he is believed to have at least one of the remaining two guns police seized from him last fall. The four people killed in the shooting have been identified as Taurean C. Sanderlin, a 29-year-old cook at the restaurant, and patrons Joe R. Perez, 20, Akilah Dasilva, 23, and DeEbony Groves, 21. James Shaw Jr., 29, is credited with saving several lives by tackling and disarming the gunman. Peter Weber

March 20, 2018

Tuesday is the first day of spring, but you wouldn't know it in the Washington, D.C. region, where residents are awaiting what could be "one of the biggest snowfalls in almost two years," WTOP-FM writes. The winter weather will do more than just dampen moods, though — it could potentially bog down lawmakers' efforts to pass a spending bill and result in the government shutting down, Politico Playbook writes.

Congress is once again facing a looming Friday night deadline to complete its $1.2 trillion spending bill, which would keep the government open through the end of September. There continues to be heated debate over funding President Trump's border wall and as of Tuesday morning, the legislation has still not been released. When it is, it will need to clear both the House and Senate.

That's where the snowstorm comes into play. "So many aides come in from the suburbs that if the region gets between 3 and 6 inches, a snow day is completely plausible," writes Politico Playbook. "Of course, Congress could pass a short-term spending bill to push the funding deadline to sometime next week, but at this point, they don’t seem interested in doing that."

At the time of publication, the National Weather Service has a winter storm warning in effect through Wednesday evening. Snow is expected to begin Tuesday afternoon, and continue overnight. Jeva Lange

April 24, 2017

A new report by the Anti-Defamation League finds that there has been a spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States since the 2016 presidential election.

The ADL has recorded 541 anti-Semitic incidents in the first quarter of 2017, up 86 percent from a year earlier, with six physical assaults; 380 episodes of harassment, including 161 bomb threats; and 155 acts of vandalism, including destruction at three cemeteries. "There's been a significant, sustained increase in anti-Semitic activity since the start of 2016," said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, "and what's most concerning is the fact that the numbers have accelerated over the past five months."

The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, found that in New York City this year, through March 5, 55 anti-Semitic crimes were reported, up 189 percent from the same time period in 2016. Both of these studies say the election and political climate are partly to blame for the increase in incidents, and Oren Segal, director of the ADL's Center on Extremism, told NBC News that technology is also making it easier to commit hate crimes. "Extremists and anti-Semites feel emboldened and are using technology in new ways to spread their hatred and to impact the Jewish community on and off line," Segal said. Catherine Garcia

March 1, 2017

The rates of colorectal cancer have been steadily dropping for people born before 1950, but a sharp rise in colon and especially rectal cancer in people in their 20s and 30s has doctors worried and flummoxed. On Tuesday, researchers with the American Cancer Society published a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute estimating that Americans under 50 will be hit with 13,500 new cases of colon and rectal cancers this year, a growing percentage of the some 95,000 colon cancer and 40,000 rectal cancer diagnoses among all ages.

"People born in 1990, like my son, have double the risk of colon cancer and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer" as someone born in 1950 at the same age, epidemiologist Rebecca Siegel, the lead author of the study, tells The New York Times. Worse, "they carry the risk forward with them as they age." The analysis is the largest and most detailed to date of colorectal cancer incidence, and it found a 1-2.4 percent increase in colon cancer rates among people 20 to 39 every year since the mid-1980s, versus a 0.5-1.3 percent annual increase in adults 40 to 54 and a decline among people 55 and older. The rates for rectal cancer are worse, rising by 3.2 percent a year for Americans in their 20s from 1974 to 2013.

Colorectal cancer is hard to diagnose from external factors — the symptoms, when they are present, include things like prolonged diarrhea or constipation, abdominal pain, bloody stools, or other digestive ailments. Colonoscopies aren't encouraged (or generally covered by health insurance) until age 50, and less invasive or cheaper tests are still not on par. Doctors have some theories about why colorectal cancer cases are rising sharply in younger people — risk factors including obesity, sedentary lifestyle, heavy alcohol use, and certain chronic illnesses that are on the rise — but "the honest truth is nobody knows 100 percent why there is an increase," said Dr. Mohamed E. Salem at Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University, who says 60 percent of his patients are younger than him, and he's 42. You can read more about the worrisome mystery at The New York Times, or learn more in the CBS News report below. Peter Weber

February 21, 2017

On Monday, 11 Jewish community centers (JCCs) across the U.S. received bomb threats, the latest in a wave of 69 coordinated threats against 54 JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province since early January, according to the JCCA, an association of JCCs. The community centers are a place for Jewish people of all religious and political beliefs to gather, as well as child care centers for children of all faiths. In one recorded bomb threat, the caller, voice disguised, says "a large number of Jews are going to be slaughtered" by an explosive device. No bombs have been found yet, but each time a threat is phoned in, teachers have to evacuate babies and young children, and some parents are pulling their kids from local JCCs.

Also on Monday, police in St. Louis said that over the weekend, vandals had damaged dozens of headstones at a Jewish cemetery in the city's University City neighborhood. Anita Feigenbaum, director of the Chesed Shel Emeth Society, told The Washington Post that more than 170 graves were vandalized in the cemetery's oldest section, a "horrific act of cowardice" unlike the Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery had seen in its 125-year history.

The FBI said it and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division "are investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with threats to Jewish community centers across the country." The FBI recorded more than 1,270 hate crime incidents against Jews in 2014 and 2015 — far more than any other religious group — and the problem has gotten worse since. "I've been in the business for 20-plus years, and this is unprecedented," security consultant Paul Goldenberg tells CNN. "It's more methodical than meets the eye."

Jewish reporters asked President Trump last week about the apparent rise in anti-Semitic attacks and incidents, and Trump responded by talking about his electoral victory, claiming he is the "least anti-Semitic person you have ever seen in your entire life," and noting that his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism. On Monday evening, Ivanka Trump became the first member of the Trump family to comment on the wave of bomb threats, tweeting: "America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC." The White House, when asked for comment by NBC News, said "hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom," but did not mention threats against Jewish targets. Peter Weber

October 4, 2016

Did you want to grow up to be president when you were a kid? For many American children, it isn't uncommon to aspire to run the country someday. This year, though, nearly two-thirds of children responded to a survey saying they have no interest in growing up to be president — results that highlight 2016's election fatigue as well as the pressure and stress surrounding the November ballot, The Washington Post reports:

The kids polled said being president was too difficult, too stressful, and too much pressure. One unnamed 9-year-old girl said she wouldn't want the job because she "would be scared that I would do something wrong if I get elected" and that she "wouldn't like all of the attention."

Parents are not shielding their children from the political news — 80 percent of kids said the election is discussed at home. And even if the negativity and anxiety of this presidential campaign is not explicitly or intentionally shared, kids pick up on information around them. So, if they're privy to the same vitriol as the rest of the adult public, it's no wonder a majority of kids would want no part of presidential politics. [The Washington Post]

Many of the concerns adults have about this year's presidential candidates concern children, too. Forty-four percent of kids said that honesty is the most important trait for a president, followed by 19 percent who said kindness and 18 percent who said smarts.

"Our children are watching and listening to us. When they hear us talking about a candidate's trustworthiness, as we have in spades during this election cycle, they pick up on it and it's reinforcing what they already tend to believe," said Christine French Cully, the editor-in-chief of Highlights, a children's magazine. The Highlights survey reached 2,000 American kids between 6 and 12 years old, and you can read more about the results here. Jeva Lange

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