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Judge Orders Swift Action to Improve Conditions for Migrant Children in Texas

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Judge Orders Swift Action to Improve Conditions for Migrant Children in Texas

LOS ANGELES — A federal judge has ordered a mediator to move swiftly to improve health and sanitation at Border Patrol facilities in Texas, where observers reported migrant children were subject to filthy conditions that imperiled their health.

Judge Dolly M. Gee of the Central District of California asked late on Friday that an independent monitor, whom she appointed last year, ensure that conditions in detention centers are promptly addressed. She set a deadline of July 12 for the government to report on what it has accomplished “post haste” to remedy them.

“We are hoping we can act expeditiously to resolve the conditions for children in Border Patrol custody,” said Holly Cooper, part of a team of lawyers who asked the federal court to intervene.

The lawyers’ reports on conditions at a Border Patrol facility in Clint, Tex., where they said children were unable to bathe, were living in filthy clothes and diapers and were often hungry, prompted a public outcry and a new motion asking the court to force the government to move more aggressively to improve accommodations along the border for the thousands of migrants arriving from Central America.

Monitors from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General detailed other serious problems with overcrowding at Customs and Border Protection facilities in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.

The new order stopped short of directly ordering the government to take action but referred the issue to the monitor to take action for the “prompt remediation” of conditions at the facilities, included the retention of an independent public health expert.

Government officials have argued that they have responded as best they can to an unexpectedly large surge of new arrivals on the southern border. They disputed the reports from lawyers who visited migrant children at Clint, and said detainees were in fact being held in decent conditions with sufficient food.

But Democratic political leaders have seized on the recent reports in Texas as evidence that the Trump administration has not been sufficiently humane in its response to the overwhelming number of arrivals on the border. On Sunday, Beto O’Rourke, a former El Paso congressman how running for president, scheduled a public “rally for migrant children” in Clint. Another Democratic candidate, Julián Castro, was planning to visit the facility on Saturday.

In her order, Judge Gee said that the court had detailed previous violations by the government of a 1997 consent decree, called the Flores settlement agreement, which established standards for the care of migrant children in its custody. A monitor had been appointed last year over the government’s objections after plaintiffs in the Flores case successfully argued that there had been egregious violations of the agreement.

On Thursday, lawyers filed a request for a temporary restraining order, saying that the government had run afoul of Flores standards at the Customs and Border Protection facilities in the El Paso and Rio Grande Valley areas of Texas.

“The parties need not use divining tools to extrapolate from those orders what does or does not constitute noncompliance,” the judge wrote in her three-page order. “The Court has made that clear.”

The “emergent” nature of the recent reports “demands immediate action,” the judge added.

The ruling was the second edict out of the California courts directed at the Trump administration’s immigration policies. Earlier Friday, a federal judge in Oakland permanently blocked the government from using $2.5 billion in contested funding to build barriers along the southwestern border.

The motion for a temporary restraining order asked the court to mandate immediate inspection of facilities in McAllen, Clint and Weslaco, all in Texas, by a public health expert. It also requested that medical professionals obtain access to those facilities and that the government speed up the release of children detained at the facility to sponsors — mainly parents or relatives in the United States.

“With each passing day, more hospitalizations are occurring and more lives are at risk. Immediate judicial intervention is necessary to compel immediate compliance with the agreement, end this health and welfare crisis, and prevent more illness and child deaths at the border,” the motion said.

The motion included declarations from children and adolescent mothers saying they were not provided enough food and clean clothes.

The conditions under which children are being held “could be compared to torture facilities,” Dolly Lucio Sevier, a pediatrician who visited the Clint facility, said in her declaration. “That is, extreme cold temperatures, lights on 24 hours a day, no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water, or adequate food.”

Lawyers for the government were not immediately available for comment, but Dan Kowalski, an immigration lawyer in Colorado who is editor of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin, a journal for advocates and academics, said the court case was a significant step in alleviating harmful conditions for migrant children on the border.

“Improving conditions is essential and overdue,” he said. “The larger question is why detain at all? Detention does not deter migration, and only causes needless suffering.”

My name is Atziry Garcia and I’m from Dallas, Texas. I’m a journalism major in the making, who enjoys blogging and taking photos on my free time. I enjoy writing about all topics including fashion, film, books, feminism and music among many. My other hobbies include doing yoga, going on long walks and developing film. I’m a proud hipster who enjoys anything vintage and under the radar of the mainstream.

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Three Disney World Employees Among 17 Arrested in Florida Child Sex Sting

Three Disney World employees were among the 17 people arrested in a child sex sting operation in Florida, law enforcement officials announced on Wednesday.

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Three Disney World Employees Among 17 Arrested in Florida Child Sex Sting

Three Disney World employees were among the 17 people arrested in a child sex sting operation in Florida, law enforcement officials announced on Wednesday.

In the operation, dubbed “Operation Child Protector,” undercover officers posed as 13- and 14-year-old children on social media and online dating apps between July 27 and Aug. 1.

The undercovers made contact with each of the suspects before proposing they meet at a location in Polk County, where they were busted.

In total, the arrests led to 49 felony and two misdemeanor charges. Those arrested were aged 26 to 47. All were from Central Florida except for one 33-year-old man from California.

“What you see on this board … are deviants. Incredible deviants,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a press conference on Tuesday, motioning to photos of the alleged pervs. “They travel from as far away as Clewiston, Florida. One even came from Los Angeles.”

“Much to their chagrin, instead of meeting with young children, they were met by law enforcement officers who were online undercover posing as children.”

Kenneth Javier Aquino, 26, a lifeguard at Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disney World, was arrested while still wearing his Disney polo shirt and swimsuit, according to the sheriff’s office.

Aquino engaged in an online conversation on social media with an officer, posing as a 13-year-old girl, authorities said. He then asked the “girl” to send photos, and sent her an explicit video of himself, police said.

Aquino told officers he is a Navy veteran and has a pregnant girlfriend.

Jonathan McGrew, a 34-year-old custodian at Disney World, was nabbed by an undercover officer posing as a 13-year-old girl.

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McGrew allegedly told the “girl” that he wanted her to come over and have sex with him and his girlfriend, 29-year-old Savannah Lawrence, who also works as a custodian at tourist mecca.

McGrew sent her explicit videos of him and Lawrence performing sexual acts on each other, authorities said.

A rep for Disney World didn’t immediately return a message.

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China Reports First Human Death from Monkey B Virus

China has reported the first human infection and death in the country caused by a rare infectious disease found in primates known as the Monkey B virus.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said a 53-year-old veterinary surgeon who worked in a research institute specializing in nonhuman primate breeding in Beijing dissected two monkeys in March and became ill about a month later.

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China Reports First Human Death from Monkey B Virus

China has reported the first human infection and death in the country caused by a rare infectious disease found in primates known as the Monkey B virus.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said a 53-year-old veterinary surgeon who worked in a research institute specializing in nonhuman primate breeding in Beijing dissected two monkeys in March and became ill about a month later.

He began experiencing nausea, vomiting, fever and neurological issues, and died in May.

Blood and saliva samples were tested and researchers in April found evidence of the Monkey B virus, also known as the herpes B virus.

Researchers said a male doctor and female nurse who were in close contact with the victim tested negative for the virus.

The Monkey B virus is prevalent among macaque monkeys but infection among humans is extremely rare. Since the virus was identified in 1932, just 50 cases have been reported, with the majority of those in North America. Untreated B virus infections in humans are serious, however, with a fatality rate of about 80 percent.

Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, and progress to more serious complications such as swelling of the brain and spinal cord.

Laboratory workers and veterinarians in close contact with the animals are most at risk as people typically get infected with the virus if they are bitten or scratched by an infected macaque, or have contact with the monkey’s eyes, nose or mouth.

But the virus is unlikely to mutate in a way that poses a problem to the general population. Just one case of human-to-human transmission of the virus has ever been documented.

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U.S. Remembers 9/11 Terrorist Attacks as The Pandemic Changes Tribute Traditions

Americans are commemorating 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign, drawing both President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden to pay respects at the same memorial without crossing paths.

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U.S. Remembers 9/11 Terrorist Attacks as The Pandemic Changes Tribute Traditions

Americans are commemorating 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign, drawing both President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden to pay respects at the same memorial without crossing paths.

In New York, a dispute over coronavirus-safety precautions is leading to split-screen remembrances Friday, one at the Sept. 11 memorial plaza at the World Trade Center and another on a nearby corner. The Pentagon’s observance will be so restricted that not even victims’ families can attend, though small groups can visit the memorial there later in the day.

Trump and Biden are both headed — at different times — to the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Trump is speaking at the morning ceremony, the White House said. Biden plans to pay respects there in the afternoon after attending the observance at the 9/11 memorial in New York.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence is also due at ground zero — and then at the alternate ceremony a few blocks away.

In short, the anniversary of 9/11 is a complicated occasion in a maelstrom of a year, as the U.S. grapples with a health crisis, searches its soul over racial injustice and prepares to choose a leader to chart a path forward.

Still, 9/11 families say it’s important for the nation to pause and remember the hijacked-plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the trade center, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville on Sept. 11, 2001, shaping American policy, perceptions of safety and daily life in places from airports to office buildings.

“I know that the heart of America beats on 9/11 and, of course, thinks about that tragic day. I don’t think that people forget,” says Anthoula Katsimatides, who lost her brother John and is now on the board of the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum.

Friday will mark Trump’s second time observing the 9/11 anniversary at the Flight 93 memorial, where he made remarks in 2018. Biden spoke at the memorial’s dedication in 2011, when he was vice president.

The ground zero ceremony in New York has a longstanding custom of not allowing politicians to speak, though they can attend. Biden did so as vice president in 2010, and Trump as a candidate in 2016.

Though the candidates will be focused on the commemorations, the political significance of their focus on Shanksville is hard to ignore: Pennsylvania is a must-win state for both. Trump won it by less than a percentage point in 2016.

Around the country, some communities have canceled 9/11 commemorations because of the pandemic, while others are going ahead, sometimes with modifications.

The New York memorial is changing one of its ceremony’s central traditions: having relatives read the names of the dead, often adding poignant tributes.

Thousands of family members are still invited. But they’ll hear a recording of the names from speakers spread around the vast plaza, a plan that memorial leaders felt would avoid close contact at a stage but still allow families to remember their loved ones at the place where they died.

But some victims’ relatives felt the change robbed the observance of its emotional impact. A different 9/11-related group, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, set up its own, simultaneous ceremony a few blocks away, saying there’s no reason that people can’t recite names while keeping a safe distance.

The two organizations also tussled over the Tribute in Light, a pair of powerful beams that shine into the night sky near the trade center and evoke its fallen twin towers. The 9/11 memorial initially canceled the display, citing virus-safety concerns for the installation crew. After the Tunnel to Towers Foundation vowed to put up the lights instead, the memorial changed course with help from its chairman, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Tunnel to Towers, meanwhile, arranged to display single beams for the first time at the Shanksville memorial and the Pentagon.

Over the years, the anniversary also has become a day for volunteering. Because of the pandemic, the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance organization is encouraging people this year to make donations or take other actions that can be accomplished at home.

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