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U.S. border agency says it is holding 200 children, down from 2,500 in May

(Reuters) - U.S. border officers were detaining about 200 unaccompanied children along the southern border on Wednesday, down from more than 2,500 in May, thanks to congressional funding increases, a senior border agency official said. The reduction follows a pair of government inspections that revealed overcrowding and filthy conditions at border detention facilities, inflaming the debate about President Donald Trump’s hard line immigration policies. The emotions of that debate were on display Wednesday during a congressional hearing in Washington, where a Guatemalan asylum seeker brought U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to tears and left others visibly shaken with the story of her 19-month-old daughter’s death, saying she had…

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‘World should know,’ migrant tells U.S. Congress of toddler’s death

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Guatemalan asylum seeker left some members of a U.S. House panel visibly shaken on Wednesday with the story of her daughter’s death, saying the toddler had contracted a deadly lung infection during a 20-day detention near the U.S. border with Mexico. Yazmin Juarez, mother of 19-month-old Mariee, who died after detention by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), testifies before a House Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services hearing titled, "Kids in Cages: Inhumane Treatment at the Border" in Washington, U.S. July 10, 2019. REUTERS/Erin ScottYazmin Juarez told a House of Representatives subcommittee that it was “like they tore out a…

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Second U.S. judge blocks Justice Department bid for new legal team in census cases

(Reuters) - A second U.S. judge has rejected a Department of Justice request to replace its legal team in cases on the 2020 census as the Trump administration tries to add a contentious citizenship question. FILE PHOTO: An informational pamphlet is displayed at an event for community activists and local government leaders to mark the one-year-out launch of the 2020 Census efforts in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File PhotoU.S. District Court Judge George Hazel in Maryland said on Wednesday the government needed at least one withdrawing lawyer to remain on the case to help the new lawyers. Barring that, Hazel said the government would…

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U.S. to probe French plan to tax tech companies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered an investigation into France’s planned tax on technology companies, a probe that could lead to the United States imposing new tariffs or other trade restrictions. FILE PHOTO: The logos of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google in a combination photo from Reuters files./File Photo“The United States is very concerned that the digital services tax which is expected to pass the French Senate tomorrow unfairly targets American companies,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement announcing the investigation. The move gives Lighthizer up to a year to investigate if France’s digital-tax plan would hurt U.S. technology companies.…

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Trump’s labor chief Acosta defends Epstein plea deal, calling him ‘a sexual predator’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta on Wednesday dismissed calls for his resignation and defended a controversial non-prosecution agreement he approved more than 10 years ago with financier Jeffrey Epstein, who has now been charged with sex trafficking in underage girls. Acosta, who was a U.S. prosecutor in Florida at the time, has been the target of criticism that his office approved a lenient deal for Epstein that has received renewed attention in the wake of new charges filed this week. Instead of prosecuting Epstein on a federal level, Acosta’s office agreed to have the billionaire ink a plea deal with state prosecutors that resulted…

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U.S. Fed policy-makers debate merit of a repo facility

(Reuters) - Federal Reserve officials argued the pros and cons of a possible policy tool that allows banks to borrow from the U.S. central bank using Treasuries and other securities as collateral, minutes of the Fed’s June policy meeting released on Wednesday showed. FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File PhotoSuch a standing fixed-rate repurchase agreement, or repo, facility would serve as a backstop against sharp spikes in interest rates in money markets, which are occurring with growing frequency at month- and quarter-end. These jumps in interest rates for banks and Wall Street to borrow…

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Powell testimony, Fed meeting highlight case for ‘insurance’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A confidence shock driven partly by the U.S. trade war is at the center of an increasingly persuasive argument for Federal Reserve policymakers seriously considering cutting rates for the first time in a decade. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday set the stage for the rate cut this month, as records from policymakers’ latest meeting showed increasing fear that a U.S.-China trade war that has done little to directly restrain growth is indirectly causing businesses to hold back on buying equipment, giving workers a raise and hiking their prices. Those factors have conspired to pose a serious risk of ending the economic expansion…

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Exclusive: New chemical weapons team to launch first Syria investigations

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - A new team established by the global chemical weapons watchdog to attribute blame for the use of banned munitions in Syria will investigate nine alleged attacks during the country’s civil war, including in the town of Douma, sources briefed on the matter told Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A U.N. chemical weapons expert, wearing a gas mask, holds a plastic bag containing samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus August 29, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abdullah The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was created in 1997 as a technical body to enforce…

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Fed Chair Raises ‘Serious Concerns’ About Facebook’s Cryptocurrency Project

Facebook is facing a growing chorus of doubts about its new Libra cryptocurrency project from authorities around the world, ahead of two congressional hearings on the initiative next week.On Wednesday, the chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, said Libra raised a host of “serious concerns” around “money laundering, consumer protection and financial stability.”“I just think it cannot go forward without there being broad satisfaction with the way the company has addressed money laundering” and other issues, Mr. Powell said as he testified before the House Financial Services Committee.Mr. Powell is the latest central banker to express skepticism about Libra, which Facebook announced last month. Central bankers…

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U.S. Air Force finds no evidence of misconduct by top general

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An Air Force investigation has found no evidence to support accusations of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump’s nominee to become vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a senior U.S. military official said on Wednesday. Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten speaks at a Senate Armed Services hearing on the proposal to establish a U.S. Space Force in Washington, U.S., April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Jeenah MoonThe nomination of Air Force General John Hyten, the outgoing head of the U.S. military’s Strategic Command, remains on track, the Pentagon said. Still, it was unclear if he would be confirmed by the Senate by the end…

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