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Mexico opens controversial memorial for drug war victims

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Mexico opened a memorial Friday honoring tens of thousands of victims of a brutal drug war, but the garden of towering steel walls has been rejected by some relatives of the dead and missing.

Built with funds seized from drug cartels, the memorial was built during the administration of president Felipe Calderon, whose six-year term ended in December and was marked by an escalation of the violence.

Although it was completed months ago, the $2.4 million monument was only unveiled on Friday in a park of the sprawling Mexican capital, well after Calderon left office.

“This memorial remembers not only those who are gone, but also those who are still here,” said Alejandro Marti, founder of the Mexico SOS group whose teenage son was murdered in 2008.

With President Enrique Pena Nieto traveling in Asia, the government was represented by Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, who is leading a new security strategy focused on reducing the daily violence plaguing the population.

“This place is a reminder that we must accelerate our efforts to close any space for violence and impunity,” Osorio Chong said.

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The memorial has divided victim rights’ groups, with prominent peace activist and poet Javier Sicilia refusing to attend the ceremony because it is next to a military base and lacks the names of the dead and disappeared.

Marti argued that the memorial has no names because there is no official list of the missing, but that there is space to add them.

Sicilia founded the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity after his 24-year-old son was murdered two years ago. He was a critic of Calderon’s drug war strategy, saying the 2006 deployment of troops was partly to blame for the burst of violence that left 70,000 dead in six years.

Sicilia’s movement wanted the government to turn an existing monument, a 104-meter (340-foot) tower called the Pillar of Light, to be turned into a memorial for the victims instead. The tower was built for the bicentennial of Mexico’s independence.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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Lawrence O’Donnell throttles Donny Deutsch for saying Elizabeth Warren can’t beat Trump: ‘This is pure guesswork’

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Lawrence O'Donnell and Donny Deutsch had quite the exchange in the post-debate conversation on MSNBC Wednesday.

Deutsch tried to say that Sen. Elizabeth Warren's outstanding debate performance doesn't matter because Warren can't win in a match-up against President Donald Trump.

"I do not believe Elizabeth Warren, on stage with Donald Trump, beats him," he told the MSNBC panel. "And I think if we're honest with ourselves and we look hard at ourselves, I think a lot of people agree with me. It's — and I also think when you can label somebody a socialist, 57 percent of this country thinks that word is un-American. I'm not saying it's fair. When he can blanket Elizabeth Warren as a socialist, and he's on stage with her, the Democrats lose."

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Father and daughter drowning at the border fuels anger at Trump immigration policies

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A shocking photograph of a Salvadoran man and his baby daughter drowned in the Rio Grande fueled a surge of emotion around the world Wednesday -- as US Democrats furiously denounced Donald Trump's immigration policies.

"Trump is responsible for these deaths," said Beto O'Rourke, one of several Democratic White House hopefuls who took to Twitter to lash out at the president.

Former vice president Joe Biden, who is also seeking the presidency in 2020, called the image "gut-wrenching."

"History will judge how we respond to the Trump administration's treatment of immigrant families & children -- we can't be silent," he said.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren leads Democrats in spirited first 2020 debate

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Ten Democrats clashed in the first debate of the 2020 presidential race Wednesday with Elizabeth Warren cementing her status as a top-tier candidate and several underdogs using the issue of immigration to clamor for the limelight.

The biggest American political debate since the 2016 presidential campaign is occurring over two nights in Miami, climaxing Thursday with former vice president Joe Biden squaring off against nine challengers, including number two candidate Bernie Sanders.

But Wednesday's first take was a spirited encounter between Democrats like ex-congressman Beto O'Rourke, Senator Cory Booker, former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on subjects as varied as health care, economic inequality, climate action, gun violence, Iran and immigration.

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