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Nation & World Briefs


Thursday, July 12, 2018
Detaining immigrant kids is now a billion-dollar industry

SAN ANTONIO — Detaining immigrant children has morphed into a surging industry in the U.S. that now reaps $1 billion annually — a tenfold increase over the past decade, an Associated Press analysis finds.

Health and Human Services grants for shelters, foster care and other child welfare services for detained unaccompanied and separated children soared from $74.5 million in 2007 to $958 million dollars in 2017.

The agency is also reviewing a new round of proposals amid a growing effort by the White House to keep immigrant children in government custody.

Currently, more than 11,800 children, from a few months old to 17, are housed in nearly 90 facilities in 15 states — Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

They are being held while their parents await immigration proceedings or, if the children arrived unaccompanied, are reviewed for possible asylum themselves.

In May, the agency issued requests for bids for five projects that could total more than $500 million for beds, foster and therapeutic care, and “secure care,” which means employing guards. More contracts are expected to come up for bids in October.

Police say they made an ‘error’ in arresting Stormy Daniels

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Prosecutors dropped charges Thursday against Stormy Daniels just hours after the porn star was arrested and accused of illegally rubbing undercover police officers’ faces against her bare breasts during a performance at an Ohio strip club.

Her attorney said she was “set up” in a Columbus police sting operation, calling it an “absurd use of law enforcement resources.” Police said they routinely conduct such undercover operations.

The 39-year-old adult film star who claims to have had sex with President Donald Trump was charged with three misdemeanors, each punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

She was released on $6,000 bail around daybreak Thursday.

By early afternoon, prosecutors said they were dropping the case because Ohio’s law against physical contact between strippers and customers applies only to someone who “regularly” performs at a club. In Daniels’ case, it was her first appearance at Sirens in Columbus.

Columbus police chief Kim Jacobs said that “element of the law was missed in error.”

Player-coach bond may have saved lives in Thai cave ordeal

The day-to-day pearls of wisdom imparted by coaches to players — from youth sports, to high school, to college and even the pros — are well-known: Try your hardest, don’t lose focus, support your teammates, keep your chin up.

Sometimes, heeding that advice can lead to winning a game or a championship.

In the case of the 12 youth soccer players trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand, it may have helped save their lives.

Unsure of their prospects for more than two weeks while they awaited rescue , the kids and their coach found themselves in a life-and-death struggle that placed an acute focus on the value of teamwork, positive attitude and strong leadership.

Everyone made it out alive, in no small part, according to rescuers and sports experts, because they listened to their coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, or “Coach Ake,” and remembered the lessons athletes have been absorbing on soccer pitches, basketball courts and baseball diamonds for decades.

Judge doesn’t halt extradition of Lithuanian ex-judge

CHICAGO — A former Lithuanian lawmaker appeared close to fainting in a Chicago federal courtroom Thursday as a judge refused to halt her extradition to her homeland, where she faces charges stemming from her claims about the existence of a ring of influential pedophiles.

Lawyers for 47-year-old Neringa Venckiene said they would immediately appeal the decision to the 7th U.S. District Court of Appeals. That likely means she won’t be forced back to Lithuania for at least several weeks.

Venckiene was a central figure in a scandal that gripped and divided Lithuanians before she fled to Chicago in 2013 as prosecutors prepared charges. Also a former judge, Venckiene is viewed by some Lithuanians as a heroine for exposing a seedy criminal network, but others see her as a manipulator who fabricated the pedophilia claims.

As it became clear the ruling wasn’t going her way Thursday in U.S. District Court, Venckiene — standing in orange jail garb — appeared near to collapsing and had to be helped to a seat. When the judge asked if she wanted a break, Venckiene said: “No, no.”

The charges she faces in Lithuania include reporting a false crime; disobeying an order to relinquish custody of her 4-year-old niece, whom she alleges was one of the pedophile ring’s victims; and hitting an officer as dozens of police pried the girl from her arms in a raid.

From Associated Press