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Kids in cages: Geneva protest urges UN action on Trump migration policy

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Teenagers huddled in a cage outside the UN in Geneva Monday, as protestors demanded that the world body address the “unconscionable” US policy of separating migrant families crossing its southern border.

Three teens wearing t-shirts with “#ClassroomsNotCages” scrawled across the front stood inside a small cage erected outside the gates of the United Nations’s European headquarters, as dozens of demonstrators urged the UN Human Rights Council take on President Donald Trump’s administration.

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“The action today is about creating more pressure and more exposure of just how terrible and dehumanising this policy of the American government is towards children,” said Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers, which helped organise the protest.

“What the Trump administration is doing is both lawless and immoral, and because it is so focused on children, it is unconscionable,” she told AFP.

The union was among 15 labour organisations and rights groups that filed a complaint a year ago with the UN’s top rights body over the Trump administration’s so-called “zero tolerance” policy of separating migrant parents and children who illegally cross the border.

According to the complainants, the issue has reached the final stages of the Human Rights Council’s review process, and its Situations Working Group is scheduled to consider it this week.

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The rights council secretariat refused to comment, telling AFP only that its complaint procedure is “by definition confidential”.

The complainants are meanwhile hoping the council will issue an opinion “and make it clear that what has happened in America is a violation of the international protocols and international rights declarations,” Weingarten said.

– ‘Purposefully cruel’ –

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Amid domestic and international outcry, Trump announced last June that his administration would halt the family separation policy.

But by then, thousands of children had been removed from family members and placed in temporary accommodation, leading to harrowing images and reports of administrative chaos in which many parents have been unable to find their children.

Observers say many of those children remain in US custody, and maintain that the separations are continuing.

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“We know kids are still being separated. We know kids are still being held,” Weingarten said.

Sandra Cordero, who heads the organisation “Families Belong Together” that has been working to reunite many of the separated families, agreed.

“There are still hundreds of cases of separation,” she told AFP.

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And out of the 2,500 children who were separated in the months prior to Trump’s announcement last June, “there are still hundreds that have not been reunited or even contacted,” she said.

Activists also decry the “deplorable” conditions in many of the places where separated children are being held, and point to the fact that at least six children, between the ages of two and a half and 16, have died in US custody.

And Cordero especially slammed the government’s “purposefully cruel” failure to establish a system to keep track of the children and ensure family reunification would be possible.

Weingarten meanwhile said that Monday’s demonstration was important to keep the spotlight on the plight of the children — some just months old — taken from their families.

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“We need to keep that level of outrage alive,” she said.

“That is the only way this is going to be change.”


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‘Smart rats jump a sinking orange ship’: Columnist predicts more Republicans will flee Trump

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New York Times contributing columnist Wajahat Ali predicted that more Republicans would likely flee President Donald Trump in the coming weeks.

Already, Trump's own officials, appointees, and staff are lining up to testify to the House committees, despite Trump saying they will not cooperate with any investigations.

"I believe smart rats jump a sinking orange ship, and if you don't believe me, you haven't paid attention to the last week," Ali told CNN's Don Lemon. In the past week, several of Trump's appointees have lined up to give a deposition or testify. Even outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry revealed in a Wall Street Journal interview, that Rudy Giuliani was to be the point person on all things related to Ukraine.

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CNN panel mocks the White House for promoting a photo of Trump looking ‘subservient’ to Pelosi

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The White House posted a series of photos of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Wednesday after their meeting, showing Pelosi being the only person in the room literally standing up to President Donald Trump. It was an image that baffled the mind of at least one CNN panelist as to why the Trump people would be promoting Pelosi.

According to reports from those who were in the room, the president flew off the handle after Pelosi quipped that it seems all roads lead back to Russia for this president. It was at that point that Trump called Pelosi a "third-grade politician," though presumably, he meant "third-rate," and the meeting broke apart.

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Max Boot calls BS on Republicans for trying to claim Syria is Nancy Pelosi’s fault because of impeachment

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President Donald Trump is conducting foreign policy like a 1980s television character, according to conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot.

In a panel discussion about the letter Trump sent to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, Boot mocked Republicans for suddenly trying to claim that Trump's withdrawal from Syria was Speaker Nancy Pelosi's fault because of impeachment. It is unclear if Republicans are confessing the president is too distracted by impeachment to be making foreign policy decisions or if they are blaming Pelosi for military decisions.

"I mean there's a lot of really lame Republican talking points out there, Don," Boot said to CNN host Don Lemon. "But to suggest, as Rep. Liz Cheney and others have done that somehow Trump's inexplicable decision to give the Turks the green light to invade Syria — that was somehow the fault of Nancy Pelosi because of the impeachment process? What?"

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