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It turns out Trump's child separation policy was even more monstrous than we knew

Of all the harsh immigration policies the Trump administration has enacted, from slashing America's refugee resettlement program to building "The Wall," taking thousands of children away from their parents is by far the worst. The "zero tolerance" policy of separating families at the border drew so much international outrage that the administration eventually abandoned it and was ordered by the courts to reunite the families. In some cases, that process took far more than a year.

Now, an investigation shows that the implementation of the policy was even more inhumane than we knew.

According to the New York Times, five prosecuting attorneys who were told about the new policy in May of 2018 "recoiled" when Attorney General Jeff Sessions told them "We need to take away the children." The attorneys told officials in the Department of Justice that they were "deeply concerned" about the welfare of the children subject to that policy.

A week later, deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein told the prosecutors on a call that it didn't matter how young the children were. Government attorneys had apparently refused to prosecute two cases in which the children were barely more than infants, and it was made clear that they should not have done that.

"Per the A.G.'s policy, we should NOT be categorically declining immigration prosecutions of adults in family units because of the age of a child," John Bash, the departing U.S. attorney in western Texas, wrote to his staff immediately after the call. Bash was the one who had declined the cases involving babies, but Rosenstein overruled him.


This information comes from a draft report of a two-years investigation by the DOJ's inspector general, which included more than 45 interviews with key officials in addition to emails and documents. Officials say the final report could change, but what was revealed is shocking, even for those who are familiar with the policy and its implementation.

ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt expressed his shock at the report on Twitter.

Among the revelations in the report:

- A secret pilot program in 2017 along the Mexico border in Texas alarmed government attorneys. "We have now heard of us taking breastfeeding defendant moms away from their infants," one government prosecutor wrote to his superiors. "I did not believe this until I looked at the duty log."

- Border Patrol was stretched so thin from the family separation prosecutions that they missed serious felony cases, with one Texas prosecutor warning the DOJ that "sex offenders were released" as a result.

- U.S. Marshals had no warning before the policy was announced, which led to overcrowding and budget overruns because there was not preparation for it.

- DOJ officials have long claimed that they thought children would be reunited with their parents within hours, but there was no actual plan in place to get families reunited. "We found no evidence, before or after receipt of the memorandum, that DOJ. leaders sought to expedite the process for completing sentencing in order to facilitate reunification of separated families," the inspector general wrote.

Reading the NTY report, when confronted with who was ultimately responsible for the welfare of the children and for reuniting the with their parents, the officials involved in the policy either refuse to comment or point fingers elsewhere. No one wants to be the one to say, "I'm the monster," and of course the individual ultimately responsible for all federal policy is the president himself.

In fact, according to the Times:

"Gene Hamilton, a top lawyer and ally of Stephen Miller, the architect of the president's assault on immigration, argued in a 32-page response that Justice Department officials merely took direction from the president. Mr. Hamilton cited an April 3, 2018, meeting with Mr. Sessions; the homeland security secretary at the time, Kirstjen Nielsen; and others in which the president 'ranted' and was on 'a tirade,' demanding as many prosecutions as possible."

When "Prosecute 'em all!" becomes the policy or even misdemeanor illegal entry cases of asylum-seekers crossing the border in an area other than a port of entry, and no one plans for the fallout, chaos is inevitable and children ultimately pay the price.

"The department's single-minded focus on increasing prosecutions came at the expense of careful and effective implementation of the policy, especially with regard to prosecution of family-unit adults and the resulting child separations," the draft report said.

And what of the Border Patrol agents charged with carrying out the assignment of taking babies out of their parents' arms? One of them spoke to PBS Frontline about what that was like:

Make no mistake—children were traumatized by this policy. How could they not be? And that cruelty was exactly the point. Our government decided that punishing parents by traumatizing children would be an effective deterrent for people trying to enter the U.S., no matter what their circumstances.

There are certain lines that we, as a civilized society, simply should not cross. Knowingly causing harm to children is one of those lines. And the U.S. not only crossed that line, but hurdled over it with Trump's "zero tolerance" policy. Our own "of the people, by the people" government deliberately hurting babies and children is what we should truly have zero tolerance for. Not in our name. Not our watch.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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