the very definition of awful
August 20, 2018

A 16-year-old girl identified in court filings as C.R. was traveling with her adult sisters on a family trip to Mexico last fall when U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents stopped her at the San Ysidro pedestrian port in Southern California. A drug-sniffing dog had alerted to C.R., and the agents demanded she undress, relinquishing even her sanitary pad, and squat "while officers probed and shined a flashlight at her vaginal and anal areas." No drugs were ever found.

C.R.'s family is suing, and they are not the only ones. As The Washington Post reported Sunday, the last seven years have seen at least 11 similarly disturbing lawsuits accusing CBP of grossly invasive searches of women and underage girls at U.S. ports of entry.

In one case from 2016, a woman named Tameika Lovell was selected for a random search at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. Though she was allowed to remain clothed, Lovell's suit says an agent "placed her right hand into [Lovell's] pants 'forcibly' inserting four gloved fingers into plaintiff's vagina" and then separated her buttocks "for viewing." Again, no drugs.

In another case from 2012, an unidentified woman was detained on suspicion of drug smuggling at the Philadelphia airport. She was held for seven hours, shackled, forcibly taken to a hospital, and told she'd be detained "until she had urinated and defecated into a plastic container in the presence of an officer." Then, her lawsuit said, she was "tied to a bed with restraints, stripped naked by medical staff, and had a tampon removed from her vagina during a body search." She was also given intravenous sedation, catheterized, and subject to multiple scans. No illegal drugs were found. CBP and the hospital settled the case.

Read the full Post report here. Bonnie Kristian

January 20, 2018

The 13 California siblings discovered Sunday held captive in deeply abusive conditions were permitted to keep journals, investigators have learned. In fact, authorities have found hundreds of journals in the California home where the malnourished children's parents, David and Louise Turpin, allegedly chained them to furniture, refused to let them outdoors, and gave them only one meal per day.

The journals are difficult to read because of the siblings' limited language development, but investigators expect them to provide "strong evidence of what occurred in that home" as the case proceeds to trial. "There is a good chance that being able to write may have kept them sane," James Pennebaker, a psychologist with expertise in writing as a response to trauma, told USA Today. "In an interesting way, this may have helped them come to terms with the bizarre world they lived in."

A man in Texas who purchased the Turpins' former home also shed light on their living conditions, sharing photos of the property's filthy, unlivable interior at the time of the sale. After the house became uninhabitable, the Turpins brought a double-wide trailer to their property and lived in that instead. Bonnie Kristian

October 14, 2017

The Canadian-American family freed this week from a five-year captivity in Afghanistan spoke to reporters about their ordeal upon arriving in Toronto Friday night. Joshua Boyle, a Canadian citizen, said the Taliban raped his wife, Caitlan Coleman, an American, and killed their baby.

"The stupidity and the evil of the Haqqani network's kidnapping of a pilgrim and his heavily pregnant wife engaged in helping ordinary villagers in Taliban-controlled regions of Afghanistan was eclipsed only by the stupidity and evil of authorizing the murder of my infant daughter, Martyr Boyle," he said. The Haqqani network is an insurgent group with Taliban ties. Boyle suggested the murder and rape occurred in 2014, the former a retaliation for his refusal to comply with the terrorists' demands.

The family's goal now is to provide "a secure sanctuary for our three surviving children to call a home," Boyle said, so they can "try to regain some portion of the childhood that they have lost." Bonnie Kristian

August 28, 2016

A pair of barrel bombs killed at least 16 people in Aleppo, Syria, on Saturday as they attended a funeral for children killed by a previous bombing in the same neighborhood earlier this week. Another estimate puts the death toll as high as 24, with dozens more injured.

A video believed to show the aftermath of the attack sees a mother speaking to her 12-year-old child, who was killed in the strike. "Hassan, it's your mom," she says, but cannot wake him. "My sons, your brother is dead, your brother is dead."

The bombs were dropped by a helicopter, observers said, and hit the rebel-controlled area of Bab al-Nayrab. Barrel bombs are repurposed oil drums filled with scraps and explosives, and they are criticized by human rights advocates for their indiscriminate killing, especially in residential contexts. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied using such devices, but the activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says regime helicopters have dropped more than 28,000 barrel bombs. Bonnie Kristian

May 12, 2016

Some things are unquestionably iconic pieces of American history — the Emancipation Proclamation, the Liberty Bell, the Edison light bulb, just to name a few.

George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watch coordinator who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012, is now trying to redefine what it means for something to be an important part of the fabric of the nation — he is selling the gun used in the shooting, and advertising it as "your opportunity to own a piece of American history" and "an American firearm icon." Zimmerman was acquitted two years ago, and he says the Department of Justice just gave him back his weapon. The gun is up for auction on GunBroker.com, The Guardian reports, and is described by Zimmerman as "the firearm that was used to defend my life and end the brutal attack from Trayvon Martin."

The Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm has a starting price of $5,000, and the auction will go live at 11 a.m. ET Thursday. In his description of the gun, Zimmerman claims that "many have expressed interest in owning and displaying the firearm including the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C.," and says he turned down offers to purchase the weapon because people wanted "to use the gun in a fashion I did not feel comfortable with." Zimmerman wrote that part of the money he receives will go toward ensuring "the demise of Angela Correy's persecution career and Hillary Clinton's anti-firearm rhetoric," and he later told Fox 35 he's a "free American" and "can do what I want with my possessions." The Trayvon Martin Foundation, created after Martin's death with the goal of ending "senseless gun violence," said it has "no comment on the actions of that person." Catherine Garcia

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