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Smithsonian seeking child migrants’ drawings of horrific detention to document ‘history as it unfolds’

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Request by Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History comes as U.N. rights chief condemns “alarming situation” at southern border facilities

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History requested drawings made by recently released migrant children, it was reported Monday—the same day that the United Nations human rights chief said she was “appalled” at the conditions faced by migrants in U.S. custody.

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CNN reported Monday on the institution’s request for the drawings.

“The museum has a long commitment to telling the complex and complicated history of the United States and to documenting that history as it unfolds,” the museum said in a statement to CNN. Indeed, the Smithsonian’s mission says it seeks to “explore the infinite richness and complexity of American history” and “help people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future.”

The drawings in question were made by two 10-year-olds and one 11-year-old, and were sharedwith media last week by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The children made them while at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas, after being released from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processing center.

Conditions inside Border Patrol detention centers in Texas—including deprivation of prompt medical attention and lack of basic hygiene supplies—have already been sharply criticized in first-hand accounts from the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector GeneralDemocraticlawmakers, lawyers, medical professionals, and even border agents.

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The drawings captured the horrors on another level, showing the detained children’s experiences through their own eyes.

“The fact that the drawings are so realistic and horrific gives us a view into what these children have experienced,” Dr. Colleen Kraft, immediate past president of the AAP, told CNN.

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Renee Romano, a professor of history at Oberlin College, told CNN that the museum’s recognition of the children’s drawings as historically significant was “an amazing” and “brave stance.”

The heart of the human rights catastrophe, however, is the conditions that triggered the drawings in the first place, which prompted rebuke from U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

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“As a pediatrician, but also as a mother and a former head of state,” Bachelet said in a statementMonday, “I am deeply shocked that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate healthcare or food, and with poor sanitation conditions.”

“Detaining a child even for short periods under good conditions can have a serious impact on their health and development—consider the damage being done every day by allowing this alarming situation to continue,” she said.

Bachelet’s call for humane treatment extended to adult migrants as well, and she urged U.S. authorities to comply with “human rights obligations.”

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“In most of these cases, the migrants and refugees have embarked on perilous journeys with their children in search of protection and dignity and away from violence and hunger,” said Bachelet. “When they finally believe they have arrived in safety, they may find themselves separated from their loved ones and locked in undignified conditions. This should never happen anywhere.”

Andrea Germanos, staff writer


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Morning Joe drops bomb on Trump about impeachment support in states he desperately needs in 2020

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Kicking off Tuesday's "Morning Joe" on MSNBC, hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski busted out the latest polling numbers about support for impeachment in key battleground states and let Donald Trump know he is deeply underwater.

Jumping right into it, the Brzezinski said, "Half of voters in six states that helped carry Trump to victory in 2016 say they support the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry into the president. According to the latest New York Times/Siena College poll put that support at 50 percent of voters in Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Arizona -- 45 percent say they oppose."

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Britain’s Johnson races Brexit clock as deadline looms

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces two crucial Brexit votes Tuesday that could decide if he still has a reasonable shot at securing his EU divorce by next week's deadline.

The UK is entering a cliffhanger finale to a drama that has divided families and embittered politics ever since voters backed a split from Britain's 27 EU allies and trading partners in 2016.

Johnson has set himself a very high bar by promising that he will get Brexit done -- "do or die'" -- by the twice-delayed October 31 departure date.

The Conservative leader now hopes parliament gives initial support to a Brexit bill that translates the revised withdrawal agreement he struck with Brussels last week into UK law.

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Philippines’ Duterte cuts short Japan trip in ‘unbearable pain’

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, suffering from "unbearable pain" in his spine after a motorcycle accident, is cutting short a trip to Japan, his spokesman said Tuesday.

The 74-year-old hurt his hip in the crash last week, with his health already the subject of intense speculation following his disclosure earlier this month that he is suffering from an unrelated autoimmune disease.

A statement from the leader's spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte would leave Japan sooner than planned, having attended the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito.

"The palace announces that the president will cut short his trip to Japan due to unbearable pain in his spinal column near the pelvic bone," he said.

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