Members of Migrant Caravan Begin Seeking U.S. Asylum

(TIJUANA, Mexico) — Central Americans who traveled in a caravan through Mexico to the border with San Diego began turning themselves to U.S. authorities to seek asylum Monday in a direct challenge to the Trump administration.

Nearly 200 migrants, many traveling with children, decided to apply for protection at the nation’s busiest border crossing after many fled violence in their home countries, organizers said.

Wendi Yaneri Garcia says she’s confident she will be released while her asylum case winds its way through the courts because she’s traveling alone with her 2-year-old son, who has been sick.

“All I want is a place where I can work and raise my son,” the 36-year-old said.

She said police in her hometown of Atlantida, Honduras, jailed her for protesting construction of a hydroelectric plant and that she received death threats after being released.

President Donald Trump and members of his Cabinet have been tracking the caravan of migrants, calling it a threat to the U.S. since it started March 25 in the Mexican city of Tapachula, near the Guatemala border.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called the caravan “a deliberate attempt to undermine our laws and overwhelm our system,” pledging to send more immigration judges to the border to resolve cases if necessary.

Trump administration officials have railed against what they call America’s “catch and release” policies that allow people requesting asylum to be released from custody into the U.S. while their claims make their way through the courts, a process that can last a year.

The caravan’s arrival at San Diego’s San Ysidro border crossing marked the end of a monthlong journey by foot, freight train and bus for the migrants, many of whom said they feared for their lives in their home countries.

Nefi Hernandez, 24, said a gang in his hometown of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, threatened to kill him and his family if he did not sell drugs. He intended to seek asylum with his wife and baby daughter, who was born on the journey through Mexico.

Jose Cazares, 31, said he faced death threats in the Honduran city of Yoro because a gang member suspected of killing the mother of his children learned one of his sons reported the crime to police.

But the travelers faced an uncertain future as they asked for asylum. U.S. immigration lawyers warned them that they face possible separation from their children and detention for many months.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said asylum claims will be resolved “efficiently and expeditiously.” But she warned that any asylum seekers making false claims could be prosecuted, as could anyone who assists the migrants in doing so.

Administration officials and their allies claim that asylum fraud is growing and that many who seek it are coached on how to do so.

If border inspectors say they don’t have staff and space to accommodate nearly 200 people at once, organizers will put women with children and children traveling alone at the front of the line, said Bliss Requa-Trautz of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. The rest will stay in Mexico and try another day.

The San Ysidro crossing can hold about 300 people temporarily, Pete Flores, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s San Diego field office director, said earlier this month.

Asylum seekers are typically held for up to three days at the border and then turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. If they pass an asylum officer’s initial screening, they may be detained or released into the U.S. with ankle monitors.

Maria de Los Angeles, 17, said she felt confident after speaking with an attorney that U.S. authorities would release her while her case wends its way through the courts because she was traveling alone with her 1-year-old son. She hoped to move in with a sister in San Francisco.

“I’m fired up to go because I believe in God and I believe everything will work out,” she said.

She said she fled her home in Jutiapa, Honduras, because the father of her son threatened to kill her and their child.

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Program aims to end cycle of incarceration

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Neurologist Dr. Jay Lombard and a group of high school students discuss the importance of mental health awareness in schools and methods for coping with stress.
USA TODAY

A homeless Massachusetts woman with chronic alcoholism and signs of mental illness spent 872 days in jail and has been hospitalized by EMS workers more than 1,000 times.

To first responders in the community of Cambridge, she’s become a regular over the last 13 years, one of the top 10 people local law enforcers encounter on a recurring basis.

But run-ins with the mentally ill are routine for EMS and police across the U.S. and have become an undercurrent in the debate over how to stem violence from those teetering on the edge of a breakdown. A research program announced Tuesday hopes to zero in on those repeat offenders — and end a cycle of incarceration over treatment.  

“If the same person is being hauled through the system again and again, it’s obvious they are going through some sort of crisis and they aren’t getting the help they actually need,” said Lynn Overmann of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

“Currently, how these people are being treated is the least effective way and the most expensive,” said Overmann, who is leading the charge to use data to make informed decisions about criminal justice as part of the program.

The foundation, a non-profit that awards grants, researches an array of issues and offers taxpayer-friendly solutions, will be giving out $4.1 million to cull data from law enforcers, hospitals, social services in three communities to understand how police departments, medical institutions and homeless shelters deal with substance abusers and the mentally ill and provide solutions. 

The two-year pilot program will focus on: Middlesex County, Mass.; Long Beach, Calif.; and Johnson County, Iowa.

Researchers say the program will offer a road map for how taxpayer money could be used to help those struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues, rather than constant calls to law enforcers or EMS.    

“Placing someone in jail over and over and over again isn’t solving this issue. We can’t incarcerate ourselves out of this problem,” said Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian in Massachusetts, one of the three communities in the program.

Every year, taxpayers lay out $22 billion to incarcerate people — and many of them, about 2 million people, have a mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health.  Most officers simply can’t identify many of these individuals and get them the right help, Koutoujian said. 

“If we can combine databases, we can truly understand what someone is going through and be able to identify a crisis,” he said. “Currently, our only powers are to make an arrest, but if we’re able to divert these people to getting help, we’ve not only saved taxpayer money, we’ve helped them personally.” 

Not only will the information help save money, Koutoujian said, but it could head off potential incidents of violence.

More: Waffle House shooting: What happens when Nashville police respond to calls about mental illness

More: 64% of assailants in mass attacks suffered from symptoms of mental illness, Secret Service report finds

A Secret Service review of 28 attacks, which claimed nearly 150 lives and wounded hundreds from Orlando to Las Vegas in recent years, found that 64% of suspects showed symptoms of mental illness.

And in 25% of the cases, attackers had been “hospitalized or prescribed psychiatric medications” before the assaults. Recent suspects in Toronto and at a Waffle House in Tennessee also showed signs of mental illness. 

“There’s no question this will help,” Koutoujian said. “Jailing them isn’t the answer. It’s failed. In fact, the disruption it leaves in someone’s life can only exacerbate issues and make things worse.”

Most communities have known this is a problem for a very long time, but using data is the clearest way to connect the dots, Overmann said.

“We have to address this at some point because there are extremely high costs and terrible outcomes for these individuals,” she said. “This is the start of a fundamental shift in how we examine this issue.”

Follow Christal Hayes on Twitter: Journo_Christal 

Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2HCW5I1



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Caravan reaches U.S. border, migrants told crossing at capacity


TIJUANA, Mexico — A group of Central Americans who journeyed in a caravan to the U.S. border resolved to turn themselves in and ask for asylum Sunday in a direct challenge to the Trump administration — only to have U.S. immigration officials announce that the San Diego crossing was already at capacity.


Nearly 200 migrants, many traveling with children, had decided to apply for protection at the nation’s busiest border crossing after many fled violence in their home countries, organizers said. The caravan got attention after President Donald Trump and members of his Cabinet called it a threat to the United States.


Shortly before the migrants were expected to arrive, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said San Diego’s San Ysidro crossing would not immediately be able to handle more asylum seekers. It can hold about 300 people at a time, and officials had been warning that it might fill up.


“At this time, we have reached capacity at the San Ysidro port of entry for CBP officers to be able to bring additional persons traveling without appropriate entry documentation into the port of entry for processing,” Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said in a statement. “Those individuals may need to wait in Mexico as CBP officers work to process those already within our facilities.”

Central American migrants expected to seek asylum at U.S. border


He said the crossing could take in additional people as space and resources become available.


Despite the announcement, about 50 people walked across a bridge and approached the port facility, but were not immediately accommodated by U.S. officials. They were being permitted to wait in passageways until room became available, and appeared prepared to wait overnight, according to Irineo Mujica, one of the organizers of Pueblos Sin Fronteras, an organization assisting the asylum speakers.

Border patrol agents apprehend immigrants who illegally crossed the border from Mexico into the U.S. in the Rio Grande Valley sector, near McAllen, Texas, U.S., April 3, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott - RC16B0F413D0

A look at one of the U.S.’s busiest crossing points for migrants


Another 50 prepared to camp outside a gate on the Mexican side of the border crossing with backpacks and blankets hoping to get their turn on Monday.


Nicole Ramos, an attorney working on behalf of caravan members, expressed disbelief that U.S. authorities cannot process more asylum seekers until its backlog eases.

Caravan of migrants near U.S. as Trump vows prosecution


“They have been well aware that a caravan is going to arrive at the border,” she said at a news conference. “The failure to prepare and failure to get sufficient agents and resources is not the fault of the most vulnerable among us. We can build a base in Iraq in under a week. We can’t process 200 refugees. I don’t believe it.”


The migrants had made their way north by foot, freight train and bus over the past month, many saying they feared for their lives in their home countries.


The Trump administration has been tracking the caravan since it started in Mexico on March 25 near the Guatemala border. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called the caravan “a deliberate attempt to undermine our laws and overwhelm our system.”

Members of a Central American family traveling with a caravan of migrants prepare to cross the border and apply for asylum in the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico.

Members of a Central American family traveling with a caravan of migrants prepare to cross the border and apply for asylum in the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico.


Administration officials have railed against what they call America’s “catch and release” policies that allow people requesting asylum to be released from custody into the U.S. while their claims make their way through the courts, a process that can last a year.


Wendi Yaneri Garcia said she is confident she will be released while her asylum case is pending because she is traveling alone with her 2-year-old son, who has been sick.


“All I want is a place where I can work and raise my son,” the 36-year-old said.


She said that police in her hometown of Atlantida, Honduras, jailed her for protesting construction of a hydroelectric plant and that she received death threats after being released.


Nefi Hernandez, 24, said a gang in his hometown of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, threatened to kill him and his family if he did not sell drugs. He intended to seek asylum with his wife and baby daughter, who was born on the journey through Mexico.

Central Americans who travel with a caravan of migrants they walk towards the border before crossing the border and request asylum in the United States.

Central Americans who travel with a caravan of migrants they walk towards the border before crossing the border and request asylum in the United States.


Jose Cazares, 31, said he faced death threats in the Honduran city of Yoro because a gang member suspected of killing the mother of his children learned one of his sons reported the crime to police.


Earlier Sunday, the migrants boarded five old school buses to attend a rally at a Pacific Ocean beach, with supporters gathering on both sides of the border fence and some climbing the barrier to sit or to wave signs.


The travelers face an uncertain future if they ask for asylum. U.S. immigration lawyers warned them that they face possible separation from their children and detention for many months.


Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said asylum claims will be resolved “efficiently and expeditiously.” But she warned that any asylum seekers making false claims could be prosecuted, as could anyone who assists the migrants in doing so.


Administration officials and their allies claim that asylum fraud is growing and that many who seek it are coached on how to do so.


Asylum seekers are typically held for up to three days at the border and then turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. If they pass an asylum officer’s initial screening, they may be detained or released into the U.S. with ankle monitors.

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Pot industry pleads its case against potential Texas CBD ban

Sarah Shebanek, wellness buyer for Alfalfa's, ...

RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

Sarah Shebanek, wellness buyer for Alfalfa’s, works with the CBD oil supplements the store sells on Dec. 4, 2017 in Boulder.

DENVER — A month after a Texas health agency proposed cracking down on CBD, the cannabis industry is actively trying to change the minds of health authorities about CBD to keep the products on shelves throughout the state.

The confusion started in March, when the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) announced a draft plan to yank CBD products from shelves — even if they contain no THC and aren’t marijuana derivatives.

Public comment on the issue has closed. The final decision will be made by the agency’s commissioner, Dr. John Hellerstedt.

A spokeswoman for the agency told Hemp Industry Daily that CBD is an adulterant that can’t be added to foods and is not a legal nutritional supplement.

“The DEA lists CBD and THC as controlled substances,” Lara Anton wrote in an email.

Anton said Texas health authorities haven’t made any decisions yet about how to deal with CBD being sold online from out-of-state entities.

Robert Hoban, a prominent Denver-based cannabis attorney with clients who make CBD, sent a letter to the health department warning that enacting the proposal would do “devastating and irreparable” damage to the emerging hemp industry.

“Implementation of the protocol would cause Texas to fall far behind the rest of the nation for years to come in its treatment and regulation of the products,” Hoban wrote.

In addition, a lawyer representing the Texas Cannabis Industry Association (TCIA) questioned whether the health department, which did not participate in discussions about the state’s new low-THC medical marijuana program, was the right agency to make such a decision.

“Due to its nonexistent involvement throughout the legislative process . (the agency) lacks the education and understanding of how CBD and THC from hemp products should be regulated,” attorney Richard Cheng said.

Anton told Hemp Industry Daily that the health agency has detained CBD products in the past, but she did not elaborate or say whether anyone was charged with a crime.

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The euro area’s economy loses momentum

ECONOMISTS have spent the past decade wringing their hands over the health of the euro area’s economy. Last year, in a welcome respite, it expanded by a robust 2.3%, outstripping forecasts and matching America’s growth rate. But it has appeared less rosy-cheeked since.

Symptoms include moderation in a number of monthly indicators. Industrial production fell in January and February, as did business confidence; retail-sales growth was disappointing. The purchasing managers’ index (PMI), an output survey regarded as a good early indicator of GDP growth, has fallen from exuberant—and perhaps unsustainable—levels at the turn of the year, though it still points to decent growth (see chart).

Germany, the bloc’s largest economy, has not been immune. A summary indicator compiled by the Macroeconomic Policy Institute, a German think-tank, which includes production, sentiment and interest-rate data, suggests that the probability of a recession has risen, from 7% in March to 32% in April. A measure of economic sentiment based on a survey of participants in financial markets by the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW), another German institute, has fallen sharply.

Many analysts think that at least part of the explanation could be a range of temporary factors, the equivalent of a sniffle rather than a severe infection. A cold, elongated winter across the continent, and a nasty outbreak of flu in Germany, may have depressed production and kept shoppers at home. Some German output was probably lost in February, when members of IG Metall, a large trade union for industrial workers, went on strike. But if this told the whole story, the euro area’s economy should be bouncing back by now. Although the whole zone’s PMI stabilised in April, some surveys in Germany and France dipped a little further.

Demand may have been weighed down by other factors. The waning impact of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) quantitative-easing programme could be a candidate. But the central bank’s regular survey of banks suggests that its accommodative monetary-policy stance continued to translate into looser credit conditions over the past six months.

Another candidate is the stronger euro, which may have held back exports. Although much of its rise took place last year, economists at HSBC, a bank, point out that currency changes typically feed through to the trade figures with a lag. Consistent with that, the zone’s exports fell in February; sharp falls in the PMI measure of manufacturing-export orders also point to a loss in momentum.

Barring further strength in the currency, this too should eventually pass. A complication, though, is the risk of a trade war, given the importance of exports for the euro area, and particularly Germany. The fear of protectionism could explain why some forward-looking indicators of sentiment have turned down, says Achim Wambach of the ZEW, though it is unlikely to have affected the hard data yet.

The ECB, which was meeting to discuss monetary policy as The Economist went to press on April 26th, will be watching closely for signs of more persistent weakness. One risk is that the slowdown indicates less spare capacity in the economy than expected, with less room for above-trend growth. But with inflationary pressure still subdued across the euro zone, policymakers may not be too exercised. That said, the cyclical peak in growth may be past. As spare capacity is used up, most forecasters expect growth in the zone to slow gradually over the coming years, towards its long-run potential rate.

And here a more chronic problem surfaces. In its World Economic Outlook, released last week, the IMF opined that medium-term growth in the single-currency bloc was likely to be only 1.4%, “held back by low productivity amid weak reform efforts and unfavourable demographics”. The hand-wringing continues.

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Apple’s Corporate Responsibility for Distracted Driving – Room for Debate


It’s Impossible to Outsource Our Decision-Making

Katherine_mangu-ward-thumbstandard

You almost certainly already rely on technology to help you be a moral, responsible human being. From old-fashioned tech like alarm clocks and calendars to newfangled diet trackers or mindfulness apps, our devices nudge us to show up to work on time, eat healthy, and do the right thing. But it’s nearly impossible to create a technological angel on your right shoulder without also building in a workaround that is vulnerable to the devil on your left. Put another way: Any alarm clock user who denies that he has heard the siren song of the snooze button is lying.

There must always be an opt-out mechanism and fallible, foolish humans will always use it to thwart original intent of safety measures.

Technology can help us make good decisions, but outsourcing good decision-making to technology, tech companies or the government isn’t just a bad idea — it’s impossible.

People already know that distracted driving is dangerous. They tell pollsters so all the time. Because of this clear customer demand, smartphone makers offer safety conscious drivers a variety of ways to minimize distraction, from handsfree headsets and voice command to mute buttons and airplane mode.

But automatically disabling certain apps in a fast-moving vehicle — as the grieving family of 5-year-old distracted driving victim Moriah Modisette is suing to force Apple to do — won’t work. One of the great glories of the smartphone era is the ability to work, chat and read while on mass transit or riding shotgun, so there’s no way to build an accelerometer-based shut-down unless you also add an opt-out. And if there’s an opt-out, then fallible, foolish humans will always use it to thwart the original intent.

What’s more, legally mandated technological fixes tend to be even less effective than their market-driven counterparts: Think of the “Are You 18?” queries that pop up on sites peddling liquor, cigarettes or other adult products. (Has anyone in the history of the internet ever clicked “No”?) Judges and regulators consistently overvalue their ability to prevent catastrophe and undervalue the costs they impose on innocent users. The most wide-reaching effect of any kind of mandatory distracted driving safety provision will simply be to force every user of every smartphone, on every bus, train and plane to click “I am not the driver” every day unto eternity, without actually dissuading the kind of jerks who are determined to FaceTime while driving down the interstate.


Technology Can Save Us From Drivers Using Social Media

Jason_mars-thumbstandard

While the untimely death of an innocent 5-year-old is tragic, it’s clear that Apple shouldn’t be legally responsible for the irresponsible driver who killed her. Almost any distraction can lead to an accident. If a driver slammed his car into someone because he took his hands off the steering wheel to unwrap a taco, surely we wouldn’t hold Taco Bell responsible, or outlaw the eating of tacos while driving.

That being said, companies do have a social responsibility to be mindful of hazards that arise from misuse of their products and take sensible precautions. In the case of Apple, it would be absolutely reasonable for it to use a non-intrusive mechanism to detect with near perfect accuracy when a user is driving to prevent hazardous distractions.

The challenge that arises here is whether the technology can achieve near-perfect accuracy in driver detection. From a technical standpoint, its straightforward to sense the rate that a phone is moving. For example Apple provides a set of software protocols called CoreMotion that lets programmers glean insights about the phone’s movement and even has an “automotive” property to predict whether the user is in a vehicle. However, detecting whether the user or owner of the phone is the driver or a passenger is trickier with just this approach. In the case of FaceTime and other apps involving a camera, there is an opportunity to use the camera, along with deep-learning algorithms, to literally look at the user and environment and discern whether the user in view is driving. There has been a wealth of research on detecting driver fatigue and other attributes, some of which has been discussed at the IEEE Intelligent Vehicles Symposium. I would expect such a solution to be readily adopted by users if the accuracy is high enough, as mispredictions can create frustration and discourage use.

The state of deep learning technology is at a place where companies like Apple should explore its use for safety purposes. While a staunch libertarian would be opposed to the infringement on freedom, I simply can’t think of a situation where someone should be FaceTiming and driving, ever.


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‘Total BS’: John Kelly forced to deny report he called Trump an idiot | US news

John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, has been forced to deny a report that he called Donald Trump an “idiot”.

In a rapid response statement issued on Monday, Kelly dismissed the claim, broadcast by NBC News, as “total BS”.

The denial was quicker and more direct than that offered by the then secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, when he allegedly described the US president as a “fucking moron” and then ducked questions about it. Trump challenged Tillerson to an IQ test and eventually fired him.

The NBC News report quoted officials as saying Kelly portrays himself as fighting a lonely battle to curb Trump’s erratic impulses and stave off disaster. “He has referred to Trump as ‘an idiot’ multiple times to underscore his point, according to four officials who say they’ve witnessed the comments.”

Kelly issued a denial via the White House, saying that he and the president have “an incredibly candid and strong relationship”. He added: “He always knows where I stand and he and I both know this story is total BS.”

Kelly insisted that the report “is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration’s many successes”.

But NBC News stood by its story. Stephanie Ruhle, a journalist on the network, responded via Twitter:As one of the people who worked on the story, I can tell you, it is WELL sourced. As for ‘smearing’ the President, those on your team recount stories of you (not us) undermining his credibility.”

According to NBC News, Kelly used the “idiot” term during closed-door meetings with other White House officials while negotiating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) programme, which Trump tried to end last year.

“He doesn’t even understand what Daca is. He’s an idiot,” Kelly said in one meeting, two officials who said they were present told the network. “We’ve got to save him from himself.”

The claim is likely to cause fresh speculation about Kelly’s future in the White House. The retired four-star marine corps general was brought in last summer to instill discipline after the chaotic tenure of Reince Priebus. But numerous media reports suggest that he has been marginalised as Trump wearies of being controlled and seeks to cut loose.

A report by the Washington Post, based on interviews with 16 administration officials, outside advisers and presidential confidants, said Kelly no longer listened in on many of the president’s calls, even with foreign leaders, and cast him as “the latest high-profile example of a West Wing Icarus – swept high into Trump’s orbit, only to be singed and cast low”.

Kelly also upset his boss in in January when he said during a Fox News interview that Trump had “evolved” on immigration and said things during the campaign “that may or may not be fully informed”.

Trump appeared to respond to the report on Monday night, renewing his attack on the media in a tweet that said: “The Fake News is going crazy making up false stories and using only unnamed sources (who don’t exist). They are totally unhinged, and the great success of this Administration is making them do and say things that even they can’t believe they are saying. Truly bad people!”

In a second tweet he claimed the White House was “running very smoothly” with “great Energy” and “unending Stamina”. He added: “We are accomplishing the unthinkable and setting positive records while doing so! Fake News is going ‘bonkers!’”



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British toddler at center of legal battle dies

DANICA KIRKA and SYLVIA HUI

AP,

April 28, 2018

LONDON (AP) — Alfie Evans, the sick British toddler whose parents won support from Pope Francis during a protracted legal battle over his treatment, died early Saturday. He was 23 months old.

Kate James and Tom Evans made the announcement on social media, saying they were “heartbroken.” The death of Alfie, who had a rare degenerative brain condition that left him in a “semi-vegetative state” with almost no brain function, came five days after doctors removed life support.

Doctors overseeing Alfie’s care in the city of Liverpool said further treatment was futile and not in his best interests, and that he should be allowed to die. But his parents fought for months to try to convince judges to allow them to take him to the Vatican’s children’s hospital so he could be kept on life support. The parents’ campaign was backed by the pope and Christian groups, which helped draw international attention to the case.

The hospital withdrew Alfie’s life support Monday after a series of court rulings sided with the doctors and blocked further medical treatment.

“My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings at 02:30,” Evans, 21, said in Facebook post decorated with a broken heart and crying emojis.

The death came after an easing of tensions between the family and the hospital. Evans had pledged to work with doctors to give his son “dignity and comfort,” as he called for a truce in the divisive case.

“Our lives have been turned upside down by the intense focus on Alfie and his situation,” Evans said Thursday outside Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, where Alfie has been treated for more than a year.

He thanked the hospital staff “for their dignity and professionalism during what must be an incredibly difficult time for them too.”

It was a strikingly different tone from the one he struck earlier, when he said doctors were wrong about Alfie’s prognosis and threatened to resume his fight in court.

Under British law, courts are asked to intervene when parents and doctors disagree on the treatment of a child. In such cases, the rights of the child take primacy over the parents’ right to decide what’s best for their offspring.

Alder Hey issued a statement to express “heartfelt sympathy and condolences to Alfie’s family.”

“All of us feel deeply for Alfie, Kate, Tom and his whole family and our thoughts are with them,” the statement said. “This has been a devastating journey for them and we would ask that their privacy and the privacy of staff at Alder Hey is respected.”

Alfie’s case received much attention outside Britain, especially in Catholic countries. Pope Francis, who had met with Evans, appealed for the wishes of the boy’s parents to be heeded, saying only God can decide who dies. Italy even granted Alfie citizenship and put a military plane on standby to transport him to Rome if the courts allowed it.

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano tweeted Saturday: “Goodbye, little Alfie. We loved you.”

A leading Italian right-wing politician, Veneto Gov. Luca Zaia, said the “so-called civilized world has supplied the latest proof of enormous incivility.”

Officials in largely Catholic Poland and Italy have criticized Britain’s courts and state-run National Health Service on the case.

Emotions have run high over the case, with supporters staging angry protests regularly outside the hospital, at times trying to storm its entrance. Supporters began to leave floral tributes outside the hospital Saturday, but Alder Hey asked people to leave tributes in a park next door to ensure the hospital’s work wasn’t disrupted.

Alfie’s mother, 20-year-old Kate James, posted that she was heartbroken over Alfie’s death but added, “Thank you everyone for all your support.”

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The subtle secret to Sidney Crosby’s greatness – The Denver Post

Saturday afternoon, Sidney Crosby walked on skates from the practice ice into the cramped visiting locker room at Capital One Arena and placed his black CCM stick into a rack, jiggling it until it fit. He navigated a horde of notebooks and cameras in front of his locker, sat down and pulled on a black Pittsburgh Penguins cap. At the end of a brief media scrum, a question — one he was perhaps more qualified to answer than anyone on the planet — made Crosby pause: Did he believe hockey instinct could be honed through repetition?

“Mmm,” Crosby said. “Maybe.”

He mulled his answer, a clue to how one of the greatest hockey players ever views the game. Crosby, 30, is playing at his highest level in these Stanley Cup playoffs, having recorded seven goals and eight assists in eight games, controlling games either through muscular stickhandling or planting himself in front of the net. All four Penguins goals in their second-round series against the Washington Capitals, which heads back to Pittsburgh tied at 1, have come with Crosby on the ice. If the Penguins win a third straight Stanley Cup — a distinction no team has earned since the New York Islanders captured their fourth consecutive title 35 years ago — Crosby will again be the engine.

Having overcome the concussion scares of his mid-20s, Crosby has reached the apex of North American sports, a player so embedded at the top of his game and so regularly excellent that it becomes tempting to take him for granted or look past him at newer, fresher stars. Crosby often ends up on a secondary tier of the hockey world’s consciousness. Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, 21, won last year’s Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. Auston Matthews, 20, is the face of one of the league’s most storied franchise, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The sport is growing faster and younger, and Crosby is doing neither, probably in the former case and certainly in the latter. Still, those inside the game have no doubts about his eminence. Like baseball’s Mike Trout, Crosby is a metronomic exemplar of all-around skill. Like basketball’s LeBron James, he has established all-time-great bona fides as he remains at the crest of his performance.

“The last couple seasons, he’s been the best player,” Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen said.

“I truly believe he’s the best player in the world,” NBC analyst Jeremy Roenick said.

“Still the best guy in the league,” former teammate Brooks Orpik said.

The quality that allows Crosby to remain atop the league, coaches and teammates say, is his unique work ethic, an ability to specify subtle areas for improvement and work with meticulous precision until they match the other elite elements of his game. While his natural ability — powerful skating, pistol-quick hands, uncommon feel — made him a phenom, his creative, distinct capacity for work has enabled him to stay atop the NHL.

“He’s a generational talent,” Penguins Coach Mike Sullivan said. “He does things that you can’t teach, and that’s part of what makes him what he is. What separates him from other elite players is his appetite to be the best and his willingness and his drive to be the best.”

Craig Adams, now retired, arrived in Pittsburgh in 2009 and practiced in the same positional group with Crosby for six-plus seasons. When he first came to Pittsburgh, he appreciated that Crosby worked hard. But, well, it was the NHL; everybody worked hard. “It doesn’t make you special,” Adams said. The specificity of Crosby’s work struck him. He noticed a habit: If Crosby missed a scoring chance one night, he would replicate the situation the next day in practice.

“He’s able to pick things he thinks he needs to get better at, and he’s very deliberate at practicing those things and working on those things all the time,” Adams said. “He’s methodical about doing that on a daily basis.”


Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby, left, scores ...

Tom Mihalek, The Associated Press

Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, left, scores past Philadelphia Flyers’ Michal Neuvirth during the first period in Game 6 of an NHL first-round hockey playoff series Sunday, April 22, 2018, in Philadelphia.

Former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma recalled one night when a puck bounced off the end boards and toward Crosby, standing in front of the net. Crosby missed the scoring chance, and it ate at him. The next day, Crosby discussed the play with coaches, then asked for pucks to be smacked off the end boards in identical fashion.

“He’ll do it 100 times, until it becomes second nature,” former teammate Pascal Dupuis said. “Trust me, he can analyze his own game better than anybody else. When he sees something of his own game that’s not where he thinks it should be, he works on it and works on it until he gets really good at it. As far as him getting better, I’ve never seen anybody else doing it that way.”

For Crosby, the idea to re-create game situations in extreme detail came naturally. Missed chances gnawed at him, and through specific work he ironed perceived flaws.

“I don’t know if you call it a mistake, or you call it something you wish you could do over again, but yeah, he’s always done that,” Troy Crosby, Sidney’s father, said Saturday afternoon while lingering outside the Penguins’ locker room at Capital One Arena. “For a long time he’s done that, ever since he was a kid. For as long as I can remember.”

“It’s an instinctive game,” Crosby said. “Sometimes, things come easier than others. Just being aware of what those are, the areas you’re not comfortable or don’t feel as comfortable in, you just try and develop those things. It’s not something you think about or pick apart. It seems to come pretty naturally. If you play that many games over the course of the year, you kind of get reoccurring things.”

Early in his career, Crosby racked up assists with modest goal totals, so he started arriving 10 to 15 minutes early for practice to rip shots from specific spots on the ice. The next year, he led the league in goals. In his first three seasons, he sat in on penalty-kill meetings, even though he was not on the penalty kill — he wanted to be ready, just in case. One year, he decided he needed to improve on the draw, and he became one of the best faceoff men in the league.

“He’s made a ton of changes,” said Capitals center Jay Beagle, a frequent faceoff foil of Crosby’s. “I mean, it’s no surprise that if he doesn’t like a little part of his game, he’s going to come back the next year better.”

“He’s still the hardest-working guy I’ve ever played with,” said Orpik, now a Capitals defenseman. “That’s probably the one thing that people overlook — how he achieves his success. A lot of guys are just naturally gifted. He obviously has a lot of natural gifts. But I mean, I’ve never seen someone as committed to getting better as him.”

Late this season and into the playoffs, Crosby scored a spate of fall-off-your-couch-and-scream goals, whacking pucks out of the air and past goalies, in one instance after an aerial tip to himself. They appeared to be feats of improvisational genius, the product of instinct and divine hand-eye coordination. To an extent, perhaps, they were. “I don’t know,” Crosby said. “It’s just instincts.”

Teammates believe otherwise. Bylsma remembered watching Crosby work on batting pucks and said the chances the goals were a result of practice was “100 percent.”

“He does practice weird stuff like that,” Niskanen said. “He’s naturally very intelligent. Really, I think his on-ice awareness is so high, he knows where the puck is at all times. A lot of guys don’t have the awareness to even try to something like that.”

Orpik remembered how Crosby would ask teammates to stand in the corners and rifle waist-high shots toward him as he stood near the net. When the pucks flew at him, Crosby would use the shaft of his stick to knock them into the net, like a bunt in baseball.

“Just stupid little stuff like that,” Orpik said. “You would think it would never happen in a game. He would work on it for hours at a time if it meant he would score one goal that way. … A lot of people label it as lucky. With him, guys that practice with him know there’s not a lot of luck involved there.”

Of course, if you are going to target a specific skill to improve, it helps to be Sidney Crosby. His creativity allows him to create and execute plays in practice that others cannot.

“I try to do a couple of drills, where he’s like on the goal line, and there’s a shot coming, and he deflects it under the bar,” Pittsburgh winger Tom Kuhnhackl said. “We’ve tried that a bunch of times. It’s either up somewhere on the rafters or it’s on the ice. I’ve never even managed to get it on net.”

And so, do those extra hours create instinct? Or does instinct make the hours pay off?

“It’s got to be both,” Crosby said. “One without the other, you’re probably not getting those opportunities.”


Over the years, Crosby has built a complete game, and his collection of skills makes him a skeleton key in skates. As Pittsburgh has tweaked its roster, Sullivan often places new players on the same line as Crosby. Whatever strengths they possess, Crosby can accommodate them. Teams often build around superstars. Crosby’s game is so well-developed, he can conform to whatever teammates are available.

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