"To the people of the United States, please help us," begins an open letter to America handwritten in Spanish and signed Sunday by 54 migrant parents who remain separated from their children and detained in Texas.
"We are desperate parents," the note continues. "We were not prepared for the nightmare that we faced here. The United States government kidnapped our children with tricks and didn't give us the opportunity to say goodbye."
The parents were separated from their children more than a month ago, and since then contact, even by phone, has been extremely limited. "Each day is more painful that the last. Many of us have only had the chance to speak to our children once (this is very difficult because the social workers never answer)," the letter explains. "The children cry; they don't recognize our voices; and they feel abandoned and unloved. This makes us feel like we are dead."
The letter's signatories are seeking asylum in the United States while they wait to be reunited with their children. They are held at the Port Isabel Service Detention Center in Los Fresnos, Texas. As of Friday, about 2,500 children remain separated from their families. Bonnie Kristian
U.K. police have arrested a health-care worker suspected of killing eight babies and attempting to murder six others.
About a year ago, detectives began looking into a hospital in Northern England that had an unnaturally high number of infant deaths. On Tuesday, they arrested a woman in connection with the investigation, The Guardian reports. The unexplained deaths of 15 babies at the Countess of Chester hospital between June 2015 and June 2016 sparked the investigation, per a police statement. It has since expanded to include 17 infant deaths and 15 "non-fatal collapses."
A May 2017 review identified insufficient staffing in the hospital's neonatal unit, and a government study showed the infant death rate at the hospital was 10 percent higher than those of similarly sized units, per The Guardian. But neither could explain the deaths, prompting the investigation.
The health-care worker's arrest isn't the end of this sensitive operation, the lead investigator said in a statement, adding that "parents of all the babies are continuing to be kept fully updated and are being supported throughout the process by specially trained officers." Kathryn Krawczyk
Attorneys in California, Texas, and Washington, D.C., say that immigrant children, some as young as three, are being ordered to attend court hearings without their parents for their own deportation proceedings, The Texas Tribune reports.
While this is not a brand new practice for unaccompanied minors, under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" approach to immigration, families entering the U.S. are separated at the border, leaving more kids without their parents when deportation proceedings start. There are more than 2,000 undocumented children who were recently separated from their parents living at different facilities and foster homes across the United States. George Tzamaras, spokesman for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said it's impossible to know how many kids have attended deportation hearings by themselves. "There have been reports of kids younger than three years old and others as old as 17," he said.
Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of Immigrant Defenders Law Center in Los Angeles, told the Tribune that her organization was "representing a 3-year-old in court recently who had been separated from the parents. And the child — in the middle of the hearing — started climbing up on the table. It really highlighted the absurdity of what we're doing with these kids."
Attorneys say that when children receive notices to appear in court, they are also given a list of legal services organizations that could possibly help them. "The parent might be the only one who knows why they fled from the home country, and the child is in a disadvantageous position to defend themselves," Toczylowski said. Read more about the deportation process for children, as well as the harm psychologists say this is likely causing kids, at The Texas Tribune. Catherine Garcia
Standing outside of a Roy Moore rally in Midland City on the eve of Alabama's special Senate election, peanut farmer Nathan Mathis held a photo of his daughter, Patti Sue Mathis, and a sign with a strong message.
Father, who says he's a local peanut farmer in Wicksburg, outside Roy Moore rally talks about losing his gay daughter at age of 23 to suicide. "I was anti-gay myself. I said bad things to my daughter, which I regret." pic.twitter.com/J0oOU0EJI2
— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) December 11, 2017
"Judge Roy Moore called my daughter Patti Sue Mathis a pervert because she was gay," the sign read. "A 32-year-old Roy Moore dated teenage girls ages 14 to 17. So that makes him a pervert of the worst kind. Please don't vote for Roy Moore!" Speaking to reporters, Mathis said he lost Patti Sue to suicide in 1995, and didn't know what he would accomplish standing there with his sign. "If it's all to no avail, so be it, it won't be the first time I've done something to no avail," he said. "My sign speaks for itself and it speaks the truth."
Moore, the Republican candidate for Senate, has called gay people "perverts, abominations, that's not true," Mathis continued. "We don't need a person like that representing us in Washington." When asked if he was a man of faith, Mathis said yes, and that he used to be anti-gay. "I said bad things to my daughter myself, which I regret, but I can't take back what happened to my daughter," he said. "Stuff like saying my daughter is a pervert, I'm sure that bothered her."
Mathis wrote a letter to the Dothan Eagle in 2012, sharing details about Patti Sue's life and death. She wanted to try conversion therapy, but was told by doctors "you can't help the way you are," he wrote, and she "took her own life because she didn't want to be gay anymore. She was tired of being ridiculed and made fun of. She was tired of seeing how a lot of people treat gay people." Read his entire letter at the Dothan Eagle. Catherine Garcia
Husband and wife Charles and Sara Rippey, married for 75 years, were unable to escape their Napa County home before it became engulfed in flames, their family told ABC News.
Charles, who turned 100 in July, and Sara were found dead inside their home, making them among the 15 people who have been killed in fires that are raging across California. The Rippeys met when they were kids living in Wisconsin, and they had five children. Their son Mike Rippey told ABC News that his mother had a stroke five years ago that left her paralyzed, and they found his father's body halfway to her room. "There was no way he was gonna leave her," he said.
Because of their age and how intense the fire was in their neighborhood, his brother, Chuck Rippey, said he believes his parents wouldn't have survived even if they made it outside. Firefighters tried to get residents out, and those who didn't escape in time jumped into ponds and waited for a helicopter to rescue them, he said. Mike Rippey is grateful that his parents lived such long lives, where they "were happy right up until the last minute." Catherine Garcia
A grim UNICEF report released Tuesday reveals that in 2015, 44 children, mostly girls, were forced by extremist group Boko Haram to detonate bombs in busy areas across Nigeria, Cameroon, and Chad.
The report is called "Beyond Chibok," referring to the April 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria, by Boko Haram militants. The children, some as young as eight, are forced to detonate suicide bombs in markets, mosques, and displaced persons camps, a trend that UNICEF calls "one of the defining and alarming features of the conflict." Because women and girls in the area wear long, loose dresses, it's easier for them to wear explosives under their garments, and between January 2014 and February 2016, 21 attacks involving one or more children took place in Cameroon, 17 in Nigeria, and two in Chad.
UNICEF's spokeswoman in Nigeria, Doube Porter, told the Los Angeles Times the bombings can't be classified as suicide attacks, since many of the children were not given a choice, or were too young to fully comprehend the consequences of their actions. Life doesn't get any easier for most abducted girls after they are freed — they face being rejected or even killed because "they're seen as being tainted by Boko Haram," Porter said. One girl, 17, said she was kidnapped and forced to marry a Boko Haram fighter. She gave birth to a son while in captivity, and now in a displaced persons camp, faces abuse by people who call her a "Boko Haram wife." "I felt as if I was neglected," she said. "I did not have anybody to help or support me. When I feel sadness in my heart, sometimes I cry and wipe my tears away." Catherine Garcia
After a vicious attack, a Tanzanian teenager is proving that nothing can beat her resilient spirit.
Bibiana Mashamba, 16, is an albino, and in Tanzania, witch doctors and certain cult members think people with albinism have body parts that are magical and bring wealth and prosperity. Mashamba's parents both died when she was young, and her aunt and uncle brought her and younger sister, Tindi, who is also albino, to live with them. Mashamba told KTLA that one night when she was 11, robbers came into the house and drugged her, then cut off her right leg and two fingers; she woke up as they tried to saw off her left leg. After her cousin discovered what was going on and screamed, the attack stopped. "The witch doctors who are telling them to come and chop our limbs, they are liars," Mashamba said. "How can someone get rich off my bones? I am not rich and they are my bones. This is the work of the devil."
Mashamba was in the hospital for 10 months, and says "it was so painful." She was terrified she would be hurt again, so Mashamba and her sister moved to Dar es Salaam, where the first office holder in Tanzania to have albinism, Al-Shymaa Kway-Geer, took them in. Mashamba was struggling with an outdated prosthesis that was painful and made it impossible for her to jump, dance, or run, but help soon came from the African Millennium Foundation, which brought Mashamba and her sister to Los Angeles. There, the Orthopaedic Institute for Children fitted her with a new prosthesis. A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help Mashamba stay in the United States to attend boarding school, and she said one day she wants to be a doctor to help children in similar situations (her sister Tindi plans on becoming a judge). When asked by KTLA how she remains so positive, Mashamba's response was simple: "Because I am still alive." Catherine Garcia
Butch the Boston terrier had a rough life, but for one week, he knew what it was like to be loved.
— AL.com Birmingham (@ALcomBirmingham) December 1, 2014
After being abandoned by his owners in Pinson, Alabama, Butch spent two years on the street, eating garbage and barely surviving through the harsh winter. Alicia Buzbee and her daughter, Kansas Humphrey, found Butch before Thanksgiving, and rushed him to the vet, who shared the bad news: Butch had a swollen heart, limited lung capacity, and a leaky trachea. For his sake, a humane euthanasia was the right thing to do.
Buzbee and Humphrey agreed, but not before asking to delay the euthanasia so Butch could experience joy in his final days. The pair took him to the fire station and to meet Santa, and a big party filled with presents was held in his honor at a local park.
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) December 2, 2014
He ate cheeseburgers and pumpkin pie, and snuggled against Humphrey at night. Throughout his adventures, Butch had the time of his life; he didn't struggle to breathe, and Buzbee and Humphrey held out hope that maybe a miracle would occur. "The heart can do so many things when it gets what it needs," Buzbee told AL.com.
After Thanksgiving, though, Butch took a turn for the worse, and on Saturday, with his new family by his side, he died. Buzbee made sure she looked into his eyes as he went, and told him how much she loved him. "I want him to hear those words and see those faces of the people who love him," she said. Catherine Garcia