A 7-year-old Guatemalan girl taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents last week died two days later of dehydration and septic shock, putting further scrutiny on the conditions of detention facilities at the border.
The girl and her father were taken into custody around 10 p.m. Dec. 6, accused of illegally crossing into the United States, Border Patrol officials told The Washington Post. The group of 163 people approached CBP agents south of Lordsburg, New Mexico, to turn themselves in.
The Associated Press reported that an official with Guatemala’s foreign ministry identified the girl as Jackeline Caal. Her father was identified as Nery Caal, 29, of Raxruha, a town in the northern Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz.
Ministry officials told the AP that Jackeline was feverish and vomiting as she and the other migrants were being taken to the Border Patrol station in Lordsburg.
Around 6:25 a.m. the next day, the girl began having seizures, according to CBP records obtained by the Post. Paramedics who responded to the detention center found her temperature to be 105.7 degrees.
The girl reportedly had not eaten or had water in several days, the Post said. Migrants taken into custody are typically given food and water, but it was not known Thursday if the girl had received nourishment or medical care before her seizures began.
She was taken by helicopter to Providence Children’s Hospital in El Paso, where she went into cardiac arrest, but was revived temporarily. The girl died Saturday morning, less than 24 hours after being taken to the hospital.
The Post reported that an initial diagnosis by doctors at the hospital indicated the girl died of septic shock, dehydration and a high fever. An autopsy is scheduled, but it could be weeks before the results are available.
Jackeline’s father remains in custody.
Andrew Meehan, a CBP spokesman, told the newspaper that the agency sends its “sincerest condolences” to the girl’s family.
“Border Patrol agents took every possible step to save the child’s life under the most trying of circumstances,” Meehan said. “As fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, we empathize with the loss of any child.”
The ACLU Border Rights Center issued a statement Thursday, stating that a lack of accountability and a “culture of cruelty” within the Border Patrol have worsened policies and led to migrant deaths.
“This tragedy represents the worst possible outcome when people, including children, are held in inhumane conditions,” the statement read.
The organization said that President Donald Trump’s militarization of the border has driven desperate migrants fleeing violence in their native countries into the harshest, deadliest deserts along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The fact that it took a week for this to come to light shows the need for transparency for CBP,” the statement read. “We call for a rigorous investigation into how this tragedy happened and serious reforms to prevent future deaths.”
The Post reported that the number of arrests of migrants traveling as families has exploded this year. November saw a record number of “family unit members” -- 25,172, which accounted for 58 percent of the migrants taken into custody last month.
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan testified Tuesday before the Senate about the holding cells used to house migrants. McAleenan called the cells “incompatible” with the large groups of families coming to the border seeking asylum.
“Our Border Patrol stations were built decades ago to handle mostly male single adults in custody, not families and children,” McAleenan testified, according to the Post.
A North Dakota man has pleaded guilty to plotting to assassinate President Donald Trump, in part, by using a forklift to flip the presidential limousine while Trump was inside, federal court documents show.
Gregory Lee Leingang, 42, of Bismarck, pleaded guilty last month to a federal charge of attempting to enter or remain in a restricted building and on grounds while using a dangerous weapon, according to the documents. In exchange for the plea, a second charge -- attempt to damage government property, i.e. the presidential limo -- has been dropped.
Leingang admitted in the court filings that on Sept. 6, 2017, he attempted to remain in a restricted area, the Andeavor Mandan Refinery in Mandan, after it had been cordoned off for a visit by Trump.
“During and in relation to the offense, (he) did use a deadly and dangerous weapon, that is, a forklift,” the plea agreement said.
See Leingang’s plea agreement below.
U.S. Assistant State’s Attorney Brandi Sasse Russell told the Bismarck Tribune that Leingang was aware Trump was coming to give a speech at the refinery. He stole a forklift in Mandan and used it to enter the motorcade route, the prosecutor said.
“The intent was to basically try to get to the limo, flip the limo and get to the president and he wanted to kill the president,” Sasse Russell told the newspaper.
The forklift got stuck in a gated area, however, and Leingang jumped out and fled, Sasse Russell said. He was soon caught by Mandan police officers.
Leingang later confessed his plan to detectives and a Secret Service agent, the Tribune reported.
Mandan Deputy Police Chief Lori Flaten told The Washington Post that, although reports said the forklift got stuck in a gated area of the refinery, Leingang actually never made it that far. Instead, he dumped the machine in a ditch and ran, with officers catching up to him soon after.
“We had that whole area blocked off because of the president’s visit, so there was limited access,” Flaten told the Post. “It wasn’t until later, during interviews of him, that we found out that (killing the president) was his intention, not that he was stealing a forklift for transportation.”
Leingang’s attorney told the court her client suffers from serious mental illness.
“He was suffering a serious psychiatric crisis during this incident,” attorney Michelle Monteiro said, according to the Tribune.
Leingang told the judge during a Nov. 30 court hearing that he suffers from bipolar disorder and ADHD and has been on and off medications since he was a child. Monteiro told the court that Leingang is getting help in prison and is doing well, mentally.
Leingang is currently in the North Dakota State Penitentiary, serving time for two fires he set the morning of Trump’s visit, at the Bismarck Municipal Ballpark’s maintenance shop and at the state parole and probation office. According to the Tribune, he was sentenced to 10 years in state prison for the fires.
He also received five years in state prison for the theft of the forklift, as well as another five years in a separate burglary case. His estimated release date is in 2038, prison records show.
The Tribune reported that Sasse Russell is considering making Leingang’s federal prison time concurrent, or to be served at the same time, as his sentence in the state cases.
His federal sentencing hearing is set for Feb. 15. According to his plea agreement, he faces 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years on supervised release once he completes his prison time.
Michelle Obama is ready to tell us how she really feels.
The former first lady didn't hold back Saturday during a book tour stop in Brooklyn, New York, sharing some candid criticism of the "Lean In" philosophy as she spoke about the challenges women face while balancing work and home life.
"That whole, 'So you can have it all.' Nope, not at the same time," said Obama, who was promoting her best-selling memoir "Becoming," according to The Cut. "That's a lie. And it's not always enough to 'lean in' because that [expletive] doesn't work all the time."
Glamour reported that the audience "went wild" as Obama apologized, telling her fans, "I thought we were at home, y'all. I was getting real comfortable up in here. All right, I'm back now. Sometimes that stuff doesn't work."
"Lean In," a popular 2013 book by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, encouraged women to be more assertive at work.
Former President George H. W. Bush, who died Friday at age 94, was the oldest former president in United States history.
He set the record in 2017 when he reached 93 years and 166 days.
However, Bush may not hold the crown for long. Former President Jimmy Carter is 94 years old and still living. Bush was born June 12, 1924, and Carter was born a few months later on Oct. 1, 1924.
Here are the oldest presidents in the history of the United States:
"Saturday Night Live" took a serious turn this week, paying tribute to the late President George H.W. Bush in the show's "Weekend Update" segment.
"Friday night, former President George H.W. Bush passed away," cast member Michael Che said. "He was 94 years old. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends."
"That's right. President Bush was famously a warm and gracious man who always understood the power in being able to laugh at yourself," Colin Jost added.
The tribute continued with a series of clips of former "SNL" cast member Dana Carvey's impressions of the former president, culminating with a split-screen appearance featuring both the real and fake Bush.
"I'm watching you do your impression of me, and I gotta say, it's nothing like me," Bush joked, using the same inflections and hand gestures as Carvey used in his impersonation.
Old equipment and old laws are adding to the problems with Florida’s vote recount, even after the 2000 recount that delayed the outcome of the presidential election for more than a month.
It's been almost two decades since the last recount finally ended with the U.S. Supreme Court stepping in, ultimately handing Florida’s electoral votes – and the election – to George W. Bush.
The embarrassment of those days ended with the state taking a hard look at voting. Then-Gov. Jeb Bush fought for state and federal dollars to modernize the system.
After this week, it may be time to fight again.
"The county needs funding, but we also need the state and feds to be partners in it," said Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles.
Cowles got $700,000 from the county late last year to buy better sorting machines for ballots, but not all of Florida's 67 counties have the same resources. Palm Beach County, for example, uses equipment that's almost two decades old.
Palm Beach County said Tuesday it may not be able to meet the Thursday deadline to complete the machine recounts.
Which brings us to the other antiquated part of Florida voting: the timeline.
The timeline for the primary, general election, and reporting of votes is set by the legislature and has been largely unchanged for decades, even as Florida has grown to be the third-largest state in the country.
"The timeline we are on has been in for so long and it doesn't reflect the way we are voting today," Cowles said.
Cowles said Orange County will make the deadline this week, but warns between the quick timeline and old equipment in other larger counties, some may not.
Earlier this year, Florida received $19.2 million in federal election security money. However, that money was mainly designed to fortify voting systems against cyberthreats, not buy new equipment.
Debates over the timeline for voting and vote counts will need to be addressed by the legislature.
White supremacists had planned on capitalizing on the international attention drawn to Atlanta during Super Bowl LIII to stage a rally at Stone Mountain next February, but the Georgia body that oversees the park said no.
In a Nov. 7 letter, the Stone Mountain Memorial Association denied a permit to “Rock Stone Mountain II” organizers Greg Calhoun and John Estes citing a “clear and present danger” to public safety. Calhoun and Estes were among those behind the original Rock Stone Mountain, a 2016 “white power” rally that drew a handful of Confederate flag-waving white supremacists and hundreds of counter-protesters who clashed with police for hours, eventually shutting down the park.
“Based on the previous violent event held by your organization on April 23, 2016, as well as your acknowledgement of potential violence in the permit application comments, the Stone Mountain Park Department of Public Safety does not have the available resources to protect not only the members of your organization but the Park employees and general public,” association CEO Bill Stephens wrote.
News of the park’s decision coincides with the annual release of the FBI’s hate crime statistics which show a 17 percent increase in bias crimes in 2017 over the prior year. The new report tallied more than 7,000 hate crimes, more than half of which involved racial prejudice. It was the third straight year of increases in bias crimes, the FBI reported.
In their application, Calhoun and Estes described the event as a “non partisan gathering … to call attention to the efforts of the extreme left and Communists to remove history and monuments of the American people. This includes the NAACP seeking to remove the Stone Mountain carving.”
Calhoun is a Cedartown resident and self-admitted member of the Ku Klux Klan. Estes is a white supremacist with a history of arrests and imprisonment for offenses ranging from shoplifting to burglary to stalking. Both men have been involved in protests at Stone Mountain since the 2015 massacre of black church members in Charleston by a white supremacist put the Confederate flag and memorials in the cultural cross hairs.
In posts on the internet, the organizers of the rally make their racist beliefs clear. To join a closed group for rally organizers on social media platform MeWe, applicants must answer whether they are “interested in securing the existence of Our People and a future for White children?” The question echos a slogan known as the “14 words,” attributed to violent white supremacist David Lane.
Stone Mountain was the scene of a series of protests from August 2015 through April 2016 which became both smaller over time and more radical. The first Rock Stone Mountain in 2016 was the culminating event.
That rally was organized explicitly as a white power event, paired with a march that same day in Rome organized by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement.
But while hundreds of supporters had signed up to attend, only a handful actually made it to the park. Instead, the rally was inundated with counter-protesters, including civil rights organizations, Christian peace activists, and masked anti-fascists groups, popularly known as “antifa.”
The latter group openly clashed with police who formed a cordon to keep the sides separated, throwing rocks and setting off fireworks. Rather than posing before the park’s iconic carving, the white supremacists were corralled in a distant parking lot for their protection.
Tensions were so high park officials closed the park to tourists for much of the day.
That experience apparently was in mind when Calhoun and Estes applied for a permit. In an attached sheet, the pair asked that the starting and ending times for their planned rally be “concealed until the day of the event in order to avoid lawless attempts to block traffic by Antifa and other groups.”
Stone Mountain association spokesman John Bankhead declined to comment on the event, saying the permit denial letter spoke for itself. Calhoun and Estes did not return calls seeking comment and as of Tuesday they had made no comment about the denial on any of their social media pages.
Much of the inspiration for the proposed rally appears to have come from the candidacy of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. In 2017, Abrams called for the removal of the Confederate carving, which features Robert E. Lee and two other major figures of the Confederacy. During the campaign, Abrams softened her tone, calling for an “authentic conversation” about the carving and its meaning.
An activist group called Atlanta Antifascists broke the news about the denial Monday, publishing the denial letter on their web page and social media channels. Because the event hasn’t been canceled on Facebook, the group warned its activists to remain prepared to counter protest.
“Since it is possible that the event’s Klan and white supremacist organizers may try to proceed without a permit or make other plans for the day, we are still asking all anti-racists and community allies to be ready to respond on February 2,” the group wrote.
U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg’s order calls for a hotline for voters to check if their provisional ballots were counted, a review of voter registrations, and updated reports from the state government about why many voters were required to use provisional ballots.
The court decision comes as votes are still being counted in the race for governor between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp. Abrams trails Kemp and would need to gain more than 20,000 additional votes to force a runoff election.
Totenberg said she’s providing “limited, modest” relief to help protect voters. The order preserves Tuesday’s deadline for county election offices to certify results and the Nov. 20 deadline for Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden to certify the election. The ruling enjoins Crittenden from certifying the election before Friday at 5 p.m.
Her ruling applies to provisional ballots, which were issued to as many as 27,000 Georgia voters because their registration or identification couldn’t be verified. Provisional ballots are usually only counted if voters prove their eligibility within three days of the election, a deadline that passed Friday.
The decision doesn’t say whether additional provisional ballots could be counted after election results are certified at the county level Tuesday.
“This ruling is a victory for the voters of Georgia because we are all stronger when every eligible voter is allowed to participate in our elections,” said Sara Henderson, executive director for Common Cause Georgia, which filed the lawsuit.
The Secretary of State’s Office is reviewing the judge’s order and considering its options, said spokeswoman Candice Broce.
Several voters told the judge in sworn statements that they thought they were registered but were turned away when they tried to vote. Only after repeated efforts were they given provisional ballots, and they said they still don’t know if their votes were counted.
The court order said there were more provisional ballots cast this election than normal, and that the voter registration system could be vulnerable to inaccuracies.
“The right to vote is fundamental, and no one should lose that right because of mistakes in the voter registration database,” said Myrna Perez of the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice.
— AJC staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this article.
A man who was banned from Disney World several weeks ago for unfurling a giant Donald Trump banner in the Magic Kingdom has been banned again.
He said that after Disney officials took away his annual pass in September, they had a change of heart and let him back in.
The picture of Don Cini's latest antics last week show him riding down Splash Mountain with a "Trump 2020” sign, and on Expedition Everest, he held a “Keep America Great" sign.
WFTV in Orlando, Florida, spoke with him from New York on Monday via Facebook Messenger.
"They never mentioned the fact that there was some kind of safety issue on the ride. That I was holding up a sign and I shouldn't be doing that," Cini said.
Disney revoked his annual pass, which he says he had for 24 years.
He said that a few weeks ago, Disney called and said he was no longer banned and he agreed not to hang any more flags.
Disney’s park rules state that "the usage of any flag, banner or sign to incite a crowd" is prohibited.
"And I wanted to actually abide by their rules, and not hold up a flag to incite a crowd, but I kind of wanted to test them," Cini said. "I just really wanted to find out whether or not it had to do with unfurling a flag, or what was written on the flag."
Cini shared pictures of deputies issuing him a trespass warning last week.
It says he's banned from all Walt Disney World properties, including theme parks, water parks, resorts and Disney Springs.
Cini says he now plans to unveil a much bigger 50-foot wide flag sometime next week and somewhere in the United States.
One week after he mocked Republican U.S. Rep.-elect Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL who lost an eye in Afghanistan, on "Saturday Night Live," comedian Pete Davidson issued an apology – and got a little payback.
"In what I'm sure was a huge shock to people who know me, I made a poor choice last week," Davidson said on Saturday's "Weekend Update" segment. "I made a joke about Lt. Cmdr. Dan Crenshaw, and on behalf of the show and myself, I apologize."
Davidson was referring to his remarks from the show's Nov. 3 broadcast, in which he said Crenshaw, who wears a patch over his right eye, looks like "a hit man in a porno movie." The joke immediately drew harsh criticism online, prompting a rebuke from the National Republican Congressional Committee.
"I mean this from the bottom of my heart: It was a poor choice of words," Davidson continued Saturday. "The man is a war hero, and he deserves all the respect in the world. And if any good came of this, maybe it was that for one day, the left and the right finally came together to agree on something – that I'm a [expletive]."
"Ya think?" Crenshaw said, sliding in behind the "Weekend Update" desk in a surprise appearance.
Crenshaw accepted Davidson's apology, then got a chance to take a few jabs at Davidson.
"This is Pete Davidson," Crenshaw joked as a photo of Davidson appeared on the screen. "He looks like if the meth from 'Breaking Bad' was a person."
Crenshaw also said Davidson looks like "a Troll doll with a tapeworm" and "Martin Short in 'The Santa Clause 3.'"
"By the way, one of these people was actually good on 'SNL,'" Crenshaw quipped.
Then the bit took a serious turn.
"There's a lot of lessons to learn here. Not just that the left and right can still agree on some things, but also this: Americans can forgive one another," Crenshaw said. "We can remember what brings us together as a country and still see the good in each other."
Crenshaw continued: "This is Veterans Day weekend, which means that it's a good time for every American to connect with a veteran. Maybe say, 'Thanks for your service.' But I would actually encourage you to say something else: Tell a veteran, 'Never forget.' When you say, 'Never forget' to a veteran, you are implying that, as an American, you are in it with them, not separated by some imaginary barrier between civilians and veterans, but connected together as grateful fellow Americans. We'll never forget the sacrifices made by veterans past and present. We'll never forget those we lost on 9/11, heroes like Pete's father. So I'll just say, 'Pete, never forget.'"
"Never forget," Davidson replied, shaking Crenshaw's hand. "And that is from both of us."
>> Watch the segment here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised.)
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