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A federal judge in Michigan has blocked the deportation of more than 1,400 Iraqi nationals, giving them time to make their cases in court before the government may deport them.  U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith granted a preliminary injunction request made by attorneys for the Iraqi nationals who had asked him to halt their deportation, saying they would be persecuted in Iraq. Goldsmith said the possible deportees, many whom are Chaldean Christian, would face “grave harm and possible death” in Iraq because there they are members of a persecuted minority.

In June, 234 Iraqi nationals were arrested and detained on removal orders that in most cases had been dormant for five to 10 years. For many years Iraqi has refused to accept deportees from the U.S. but they recently agreed to start accepting them after their country was taken off of the travel ban.

In addition to the 114 arrested during the ICE raids in Michigan in June, the judge’s order applies to 85 other Iraqis arrested outside the state. In total, there are 1,444 Iraqi nationals in the U.S. with final orders of deportation who could be affected by the judge’s ruling.

Judge Goldsmith entered a preliminary injunction to give the Iraqis 90 days to argue their cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals and the courts before the government can deport them back to Iraq.  Goldsmith said that the government made legal representation of the immigrants difficult because many of them have been moved around from state to state to different immigration centers.  Many of those targeted entered in the U.S. as children, and more than half of them have been in the country for more than a decade because Iraq refused to take them back, according to the ruling.

The court said that those detained have been housed around the country in federal detention facilities with limited access to legal advocates and their families.  Most of them are from Detroit, which has a large Chaldean Christian population.  They were targeted for deportation because they overstayed their visas or committed crimes — typically misdemeanors, according to advocates.

Clarence Dass, an attorney who represents about 25 of the 114 Iraqis arrested last month said “For people who have been learning their fate every two weeks, 90 days is a lifetime,” Dass said. “All we are asking is for a chance to show that deportation of these particular individuals is a death sentence, and the judge’s decision today allows us to do that. Once we show those facts and circumstances, I am hopeful we will be able to save their lives.”

A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said the agency declined to comment on the ruling. ICE has said previously that the Iraqis detained have criminal records, pose safety threats, and have already had their cases heard in courts. The crimes they were convicted of range from marijuana possession to homicide.

 

 

 

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A horrific incident of human trafficking was discovered in the parking lot of a Walmart in San Antonio, TX.  Eight people were discovered dead inside a tractor-trailer and around three dozen people more were in very bad shape, many of them unconscious and unable to speak.  Thirty people were taken to the hospital, 17 were listed in critical condition with two critical patients dying later-bringing the total to 10 dead.  Another 13 people were in serious condition.  In total, 39 people were in the back of the trailer, two were school age children but most were in their twenties and thirties.

Authorities were alerted when the employees of the San Antonio Walmart saw the tractor-trailer in their parking lot for a long time. When some employees went to check on the trailer, the driver asked for water. While giving him the water, police were alerted who reached the scene within a short time.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said that when police arrived on the scene, they discovered eight people dead and 30 suffering from various injuries.  The driver, identified as James M. Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, Florida was arrested at the scene.

Bradley appeared in court and was charged with transporting undocumented immigrants for the purpose of private financial gain.  He claims he was unaware that people were packed into the back of his tractor-trailer until he parked outside the Wal-Mart to use the bathroom and heard loud banging noises. If convicted, Bradley could face the death penalty or life in prison.

The eight people whose bodies were initially found were believed to have died from heat exposure and asphyxiation.  San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood told the media “We quickly called a ‘mass casualty incident’ and had about 29 units arrive out there and start transporting people”.  “With heat strokes or heat injuries, a lot of them are going to have some irreversible brain damage”.

He added, “Unfortunately, some of them were severely overheated, and that was a refrigerated truck with no refrigeration…So the inside of the truck was just austere condition that nobody was going to survive in it. So we were very fortunate that they were found because if they would have spent another night in that environment, we would have 38 people who would not have survived.”

San Antonio police are investigating what they believe is a massive human trafficking operation.  Officials from the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement were helping with the investigation. Surveillance video showed that several vehicles had approached the trailer to pick up people. Some occupants fled into the woods nearby.  Authorities are searching the entire area on foot and by air using helicopters to locate those that ran into the woods.

Smugglers often transport large groups of migrants from stash houses near the border in tractor-trailers, or disperse them in smaller vehicles, taking them to cities like Houston or San Antonio.  A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of the Border Patrol, said that the people in the truck were probably migrants who had crossed the Mexican border on foot and been taken to a stash house before being put in the tractor-trailer to be transported farther north.

Just this month in Houston, about a dozen immigrants being smuggled in a cargo truck were rescued after being left in the locked vehicle for about 12 hours in a strip-mall parking lot. A police officer heard the immigrants, including a 16-year-old girl, banging on the walls for help.

Longtime Arizona senator and former presidential candidate John McCain has been diagnosed with primary glioblastoma, a malignant form of brain cancer.  Senator McCain’s office said the diagnosis came after McCain had surgery last week to remove a blood clot above his left eye at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona. Lab results from the surgery confirmed the presence of glioblastoma.

McCain is reportedly weighing whether to undergo an aggressive treatment of radiation and chemotherapy, and has not said when he might return to Capitol Hill. Glioblastoma is the most common of all malignant brain tumors, representing 15.4% of all primary brain tumors, according to the American  Brain Tumor Association (ABTA), who estimate there will be over 12,000 cases before the end of 2017.

With the permission of McCain’s family, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta spoke to doctors involved in the senator’s care.  Gupta learned McCain had felt tired over the last few months and had a bout of double vision, but blamed it on his intense travel schedule.  Doctors ordered a CAT scan and an MRI scan of McCain’s brain that revealed the tumor.

The symptoms of glioblastoma are usually a result of increased pressure on the brain.  The ABTA lists headaches, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness as symptoms for the tumor. Depending on where the tumor is, however, weakness on one side of the body, memory and speech difficulties and visual changes can all be developed as a result.

The ABTA labels the prognosis for glioblastoma survival in terms of median survival — the length of time at which an equal number of patients do better and an equal number of patients do worse. Depending on the type of glioblastoma and treatment used, this can range from 14 months to three years.  The association also cites a 2009 study that found 10% of patients with glioblastoma may live five years or longer.  The average survival time for malignant glioblastoma is around 14 months with treatment.

There is no specific treatment used for glioblastoma but there are a few different approaches doctors can take.   Gupta said “This is a malignant cancer, what that means in this case is that you operate on this,” “It needs to be treated as well with chemotherapy and radiation.”

When a cancer is malignant, cells are dividing uncontrollably and can invade nearby tissues. The cancer cells may also spread to other parts of the body through the blood stream or lymph system in the body.  Gupta added because of the nature of the tumor, McCain will likely need more procedures in the coming weeks.  “The concern is that it will come back. That’s the big concern with these types of tumors,” he said. “In order to try to give him the best chance at that, it is likely he’ll undergo further treatments over the next several days.”

McCain’s cancer is the same form that claimed the lives of Senator Ted Kennedy and Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Beau Biden.   This is not McCain’s first battle with cancer; in 2000 he underwent a procedure to remove a type of skin cancer called melanoma from the left side of his face.  McCain, 80, also had a melanoma removed from his left arm in 2000 and another removed from his nose in 2002. Both were determined to be the least dangerous types of melanoma.

A Stockton,CA teen livestreamed a gruesome video of the fatal car wreck that killed her 14 year old sister Jacqueline Sanchez.  Obdulia Sanchez, 18, filmed herself singing along to a song and dancing while at the wheel.  Her sister Jacqueline and a pal, 14, can be briefly seen in the back seat.

The video, which was livestreamed to her Instagram, shows Obdulia turning the camera from herself to the roadway a few times before losing control of the car.  With the camera still rolling, screams can be heard as the car swerved across both lanes, crashed into a barbed wire fence and overturned in a field just off of Highway 165 in Los Banos, California.

Still filming, Obdulia exited the vehicle where she filmed her sister’s bloodied, fatally injured body.  She is seen shaking her sister’s lifeless body, saying: “I killed my sister, but I don’t care…I killed my sister. I know I’m going to prison, but I don’t care. I’m sorry baby.  I’m a hold it down.”

Obdulia Sanchez was arrested and booked at the Merced County Jail, charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and causing bodily injury and with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. She is being held on a $300,000 bond.

Sheriff Vern Warnke said Jacqueline Sanchez was not wearing her seatbelt at the time and was ejected as the vehicle was rolling over.  She died of severe head injuries.  Her friend who was also not wearing her seatbelt, suffered severe but non-life threatening injuries.

Officials said they believe the July 21st crash was caused when Obdulia Sanchez over corrected a turn which caused the vehicle to swerve across both lanes, crashing through a wire fence and overturning into a field south of the road.  The highway patrol said alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash.

The girl’s parents, Nicandro and Gloria Sanchez say they believe their 18 year old daughter is still in shock and that they both are numb and unsure of what to feel.  Jacqueline Sanchez was heading into her sophomore year of high school and was about to celebrate her Quinceanera.  Instead, her parents have to bury one daughter while the other is in jail.

A California Highway Patrol officer told the media that Obdulia became combative at the scene of the accident while screaming that her sister was dead.  He was quoted as saying “The video is very disturbing,” “It’s very disturbing to us because of the callous nature of her actions, both leading up to this tragedy and in the immediate aftermath.”  The highway patrol said it is still looking into whether Obdulia Sanchez dialed 911 to report the crash.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has extended the state of emergency for another three months.  The extension followed weekend ceremonies to commemorate the first anniversary of the failed military coup in which around 250 people, mostly unarmed civilians, were killed.  Anniversary celebrations came a week after the leader of the main opposition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, ended a nearly 280-mile “March for Justice” from Ankara to Istanbul by holding a rally attended by more than a million people calling for an end to emergency rule and injustice.

President Erdogan vowed to continue the brutal crackdown against activists, journalists, teachers and opposition lawmakers.  He also called for the reinstatement of the death penalty in Turkey.  Since emergency rule was imposed on July 20 last year, more than 50,000 people have been arrested and 150,000 people have been suspended in a crackdown which Erdogan’s opponents say has pushed Turkey on a path to greater authoritarianism.

Speaking at parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli said the emergency rule had helped created the necessary legal environment to cleanse the state of Gulen’s network. The Turkish government says it is necessary to root out supporters of the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who is believed to be behind the coup attempt. Gulen has denied any involvement.

Since the failed coup where Turkish military forces tried to overthrow the government, the Turkish government has taken what some say are controversial steps to strengthen its power.   In March, the Jurist Report was published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The report describes a plethora of human rights violations committed by the Turkish government between July 2015 and December 2016.

The same month the report was published, around 330 individuals were put on trial for alleged involvement in an attempted coup.  In November Turkey significantly restricted the activities of NGOs like human rights organizations and children’s groups and arrested opposition party leaders alleging they were connected to terror organizations.  Earlier this month the Turkish Parliament elected seven new members to the country’s 13-member Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) in an overnight vote.

Ten human rights activists, including Amnesty International Turkey director Idil Eser, were in court to face terrorism related charges.  The targeting of human rights defenders and similar earlier crackdowns on lawyers and associations raises the question of who will be left to defend the tens of thousands of people caught up in the post-coup purge.

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A senior cardinal and top adviser to Pope Francis will return to Australia to face charges of sexual assault. Cardinal George Pell is the third-highest-ranking official in the Roman Catholic Church.  Pell was charged in his native Australia with multiple counts of sexual assault from years ago.

The charges against Pell were announced in Melbourne by Victoria State Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton.  Pell was ordered to appear in court July 26 to face multiple counts of “historical sexual assault offenses”.  Patton said there are multiple complainants against Pell, but he gave no other details.

It is unclear what the criminal charges against Pell involve, but two men, now in their 40s, have said that Pell touched them inappropriately at a swimming pool in the late 1970s, when Pell was a senior priest in Melbourne.

In 2014, the Vatican admitted nearly 850 priests have been dismissed and more than 2,500 have been disciplined in a sprawling sexual abuse scandal dating back decades.  Cardinal Pell said Pope Francis granted him a leave of absence to return to Australia to defend himself.  The 76-year-old Pell — the highest-ranking Vatican official ever implicated in the scandal and has forcefully denied the accusations.

In a statement read to the press, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the Vatican respected Australia’s justice system but recalled that the cardinal had “openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable” acts of sexual abuse against minors.  He noted Pell’s cooperation with Australia’s Royal Commission investigation of sex abuse and that as a bishop in Australia, he worked to protect children and compensate victims.

Pell’s actions as archbishop came under scrutiny in recent years by a government-authorized investigation into how the Catholic Church and other institutions have responded to the sexual abuse of children. The Royal Commission revealed that 7 percent of priests were accused of sexually abusing children in the past several decades.

Last year, Pell testified to the commission that the church had made “enormous mistakes” in allowing thousands of children to be raped and molested by priests. He conceded that he, too, had erred by often believing the priests over victims who alleged abuse. He vowed to help end a rash of suicides that has plagued church abuse victims in his hometown of Ballarat.

It was unclear if Pell would face a church trial stemming from the accusations. The Vatican has clear guidelines about initiating a canonical investigation if there is a semblance of truth to sex abuse accusations against a cleric. In the case of a cardinal, it would fall to Francis himself to judge. Penalties for a guilty verdict in a church trial include defrocking.

 

Cholera-outbreak-in-Yemen.-806x450-640x357.jpgThe United Nations says Yemen is now facing the world’s worst cholera outbreak.  The World Health Organization (WHO) says more than 200,000 people in Yemen are infected with cholera and that number is growing by 5,000 a day, they say.  “In just two months, cholera has spread to almost every (part) of this war-torn country,” said World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in a joint statement.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, 1,310 people have already died, a quarter of them children.  A UN report has said children account for half of the registered cases to date.  Cholera is a highly contagious bacterial infection spread through contaminated food or water. If left untreated, it can cause severe dehydration and can be fatal within hours.

Rarely seen in the U.S. and other industrialized nations, it primarily affects developing areas that lack adequate water treatment or sanitation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Cholera is preventable and easily treatable but the collapsing infrastructure in Yemen has cut off an estimated 14.5 million people (about half the country’s population) from regular access to clean water, increasing the likelihood for the disease to spread. There are reportedly 7.3 million people on the brink of famine.

The outbreak began last year but a second wave of the waterborne disease has spread even more quickly in the last two months.  UNICEF and WHO have attributed the outbreak to malnutrition, collapsing sanitation and clean water systems due to the country’s ongoing conflict.  April’s cholera resurgence began ten days after Sana’a’s sewer system stopped working.

The impact of the outbreak has been exacerbated by many factors including the collapse of the Yemeni health services, where many health workers have remained unpaid for months. Less than half of Yemen’s medical centres are still functional. Hospitals are lacking medical equipment, rehydration solutions and medicine while still receiving patients from all over the country.  They are also dealing with a shortage of doctors and nurses so they have been working round the clock to deal with the crisis.

The number of health insurers participating in the ‘Affordable’ Care Act exchanges has declined by 24 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

 

In 2016, there were 287 insurers who offered insurance on the Obamacare exchanges and in 2017 that number dropped to 218. There were 34 states that saw the number of insurers decline, 15 states have the same amount of insurers from 2016 to 2017 and only one state added an insurer in 2017.

Five states, ALABAMA, ALASKA, OKLAHOMA, SOUTH CAROLINA, and WYOMING, have only one insurer operating on the exchanges, leaving consumers with little choice.    

In one-third of counties in the United States, about one in five enrollees, or 21 percent, have access to only one insurer operating on the exchanges. This is a significant increase from the 2 percent of enrollees in 7 percent of counties that had access to only one insurer last year.

“In 2017, insurance company losses led to a number of high profile exits from the market,” the study explains. “In 2017, 58% of enrollees (living in about 30% of counties) had a choice of three or more insurers, compared to 85% of enrollees (living in about 63% of counties) in 2016.”

As larger commercial insurers such as Aetna and United Healthcare have dropped out of Obamacare, many areas will only have regional insurers to choose from, said Ed Haislmaier, an expert in health care policy at the Heritage Foundation.

                           

“The reality is that the individual market even pre-Obamacare was a very small part of their business,” said Haislmaier. “So those companies have basically dropped out and what that leaves are a couple of companies with broader footprints but not more than about 10 or 12 states.”

“What you’re down to is basically in most cases your dominant Blue Cross plan and then depending on the size and location you may have regional players and by regional it could mean either across two or more states or just within a state,” he said.       

Haislmaier and the Heritage Foundation, who originally created the methodology for this type of study earlier this year, said that the ‘Affordable’ Care Act has left consumers with less competition and choice than ever before.

“One of the stated aims of the ‘Affordable’ Care Act was to increase competition among health insurance companies,” said Haislmaier.

“That goal has not been realized, and by several different measures the ACA’s exchanges offer less competition and choice in 2017 than ever before. Now in the fourth year of operation, the exchanges continue to be far less competitive than the individual health insurance market was before the ACA’s implementation.”

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said that Congress needs to repeal and reform Obamacare without delay. 

“The Obamacare death spiral is continuing,” she said. “As rates rise, healthy people drop out and the share of sick people rise, causing further increases in rates. Since these rates are capped then the insurance business becomes less profitable and companies leave the business.”   

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Mexican authorities have detained “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch and his mother Tonya Couch, near the popular Mexican Pacific beach resort town of Puerto Vallarta.   Couch and his mother went missing just days after a video surfaced of him drinking at a party which violates his parole.  Two years ago, Ethan Couch made national news when he was sentenced to probation for a drunken driving crash that killed four people.

Prosecutors had asked for 20 years behind bars, but in December 2013, a Tarrant County juvenile court judge sentenced Couch to 10 years’ probation. Couch was ordered into long-term mental health treatment away from his parents’ influence.  He had been living with his mother when they both went missing.  Couch is expected to be turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service, who have spent weeks searching for him.  He is expected to be charged with parole violation.  At the time of his conviction, prosecutors said Couch could be incarcerated up to 10 years for violating his probation terms.

The recent video appeared to show the teen playing a drinking game at a party.  District Attorney Sharen Wilson has said it “certainly looks like him” in the video, but added that without further investigation, the video alone did not prove he violated his probation.  But leaving the county and not meeting his probation officer are violations, she said.

At the time of their arrest, Ethan Couch had dyed his naturally blond hair a dark brown, in an attempt to avoid apprehension.  Ethan and his mother, Tonya Couch, 48, entered the country by land earlier this month, according to Mexican officials, though it was unclear where.  The pair fled south after officials in Tarrant County, Texas, began an investigation into whether Couch violated the probation deal that kept him out of prison.

Tonya Couch has since arrived back in the U.S., but Couch’s deportation case will go before a judge, who could potentially take a while to make a decision, according to a government official.  She was charged with hindering apprehension of a felon. She was being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Downtown Los Angeles, police said, as they wait for Texas authorities to take her home.

When Ethan Couch arrives back in the United States, he would appear at a detention hearing in the juvenile justice system.  If found guilty parole violation, which seems likely, the judge could keep him in a juvenile facility or send him to an adult jail.  He may only face a few months behind bars under the juvenile justice system but county prosecutors are looking at additional charges in the adult system.