Thursday morning news: August 22, 2019

Trump administration moves to end limits on detention of migrant children » The Trump administration is moving to scrap a federal court agreement that limits how long the government can detain migrant children. The move would allow officials to hold migrant families together until courts decide their cases. 

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan announced the rules change on Wednesday. He said the Department of Homeland Security is adopting its own regulations that reflect the 1997 “Flores agreement” and there is no longer a need for court involvement.

MCALEENAN: The new rule closes the legal loophole that arose from the reinterpretation of Flores, which Congress has refused to do, allowing the federal government to house alien families together during fair and expeditious proceedings as was done by the previous administration in 2014 and 2015. 

Federal courts oversee the current settlement, which requires the government to release migrant children as quickly as possible, generally after 20 days in detention. The new rules would lift that restriction. 

But critics like Clara Long with Human Rights Watch say that endangers migrant children. 

LONG: Children who have been detained for long periods of time experience trauma, suicidal feelings, are exposed to dangerously inadequate medical care. 

McAleenan countered officials do not intend to hold families for a long period of time. 

MCALEENAN: We have prior experience that shows we were able to average under 50 days. That is the intent, for a fair but expeditious immigration proceeding. 

Legal challenges to the change are already in the works. 

CBO: U.S. deficit to exceed $1 trillion next year » The Congressional Budget Office warned on Wednesday that the government is overspending even more than its last projection suggested. WORLD Radio’s Leigh Jones reports. 

LEIGH JONES, NEWS EDITOR: The nonpartisan CBO has upped this year’s deficit projection by $63 billion. The new projections account for the massive budget deal President Trump and Democratic leaders reached this summer.

The office now expects the federal deficit this year to balloon to $960 billion. And in the next fiscal year, starting October 1, it projects the deficit will top $1 trillion.

CBO Director Phillip Swagel said Wednesday that the “Federal debt, which is already high by historical standards, is on an unsustainable course.”

The annual deficits add to the national debt, which now stands at about $22-and-a-half trillion. 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones.

President Trump blasts Denmark PM’s remarks » President Trump suggested Wednesday that he scrapped his trip to Denmark because comments made by Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen offended him.

Mette called President Trump’s suggestion of buying Greenland “an absurd discussion.” The president told reporters Frederiksen could’ve just politely said no thanks. 

TRUMP: The prime minister’s statement that it was absurd, that it was an absurd idea, was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement. 

The prime minister said she was “disappointed and surprised” that Trump canceled the visit.

FREDRIKSON: I had been looking forward to the visit. Our preparations were well underway. It was an opportunity, I think, to celebrate Denmark’s close relationship to U.S. 

Trump had recently confirmed his interest in buying the icy, semiautonomous Danish territory. Greenland’s officials quickly poured cold water on the idea, as did their Danish counterparts. Frederiksen told a reporter on Sunday that “the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over.”

Two U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan, death toll rises from suicide bombing » Two U.S. service members died in Afghanistan on Wednesday. The NATO Resolute Support mission announced the deaths but provided no details. That brings the total number of U.S. service members killed this year in combat operations to 14.

Meantime, the civilian death toll from Saturday’s suicide bombing at a wedding in Kabul has risen. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Some of the nearly 200 wounded in the blast succumbed to their injuries—raising the death toll from 63 to 80. That according to an Interior Ministry spokesman. 

The announcement came as the U.S. is set to resume talks with the Taliban to end America’s longest war. But the ISIS suicide bombing renewed concerns about ongoing bloodshed despite peace negotiations.

The top Taliban demand is for the estimated 20,000 U.S. and allied forces to leave.

U.S. negotiators want assurances from the Taliban that Afghanistan will not once again become a staging ground for global terror attacks.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

US general voices concerns over SoKo-Japan feud » General David Berger, the new U.S. Marines commandant, acknowledged Wednesday that he’s concerned about deteriorating relations between Japan and South Korea. 

The two nations are both key regional allies. Bilateral relations between them worsened after Tokyo removed South Korea’s preferential trade status in July. South Korea has decided to do the same to Japan.

But Berger said he’s “optimistic it will get worked out.” He said South Korea and Japan have common interests. And along with the U.S., they recognize common concerns

BERGER: All three agree what the near term threat is, and you’ve highlighted it, from North Korea, and the long term strategic threat to stability in this region and in the world is China. All three of us agree on that. 

Ironically, Chinese diplomats hosted the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea in Beijing on Wednesday—in part to help soothe friction between those two countries.

(Mads Claus Rasmussen / Ritzau Scanpix) Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen makes a comment about US President’s cancellation of his scheduled State Visit, in front of the State Department in Copenhagen, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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