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Van Hollen back from trip to U.S. Border detention centers

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)  FILE PHOTOSen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)            FILE PHOTO  Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) spent Father’s Day in Texas, visiting a border patrol processing center and two detention centers, to see firsthand what was happening to families crossing from Mexico into the United States.

He spoke with a woman from Guatemala who did not know where her 12-year-old daughter was and other women whose children had been moved to facilities in New York and Florida.

Not only are children being separated from their parents, but brothers and sisters are also separated from each other, as the detention facilities are not co-ed, he said.

Van Hollen traveled with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Or.). They were prohibited by Homeland Security from taking photos and talking with anyone besides those who had been approved, he said.

Listening to the mothers’ anguish and seeing 1,200 children age 10 and older lying down, all covered in the same shiny silver blankets that often are used by marathoners after they finish their race, was “gut-wrenching,” he said.

“This trip confirmed my worst fears about what was happening. It was even worse than I thought.”

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Sentinel wins News Organization of the Year

The Sentinel square logoANNAPOLIS — Montgomery County Sentinel editorial staff took home three prestigious awards and dozens of others at the annual Maryland Delaware D.C. Press Association Conference Friday. 

The paper won the Association’s 2017 News Organization of the Year in its division, by earning the highest number of awards, for a third year in a row.

Sentinel staff earned a handful of awards for “Broken Promises - Bad Dreams, A Metro Investigation,” its months-long investigation of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The Sentinel tied with the Baltimore Sun to earn the James S. Keat Freedom of Information Award, one of the highest honors available.

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Marching for Science to deny the deniers

IMG 3359Protesters descend on Washington, D.C. in support of science PHOTO BY ABBY CRUZWASHINGTON, D.C. — Virginia resident Michael Griffith has always loved rocks. 

“I’ve been a rock hound ever since I was a little kid,” said Griffith. 

Although Griffith, age 56, never completed his geology degree, he continues to value the science. He said that enduring interest brought him to the March for Science on Saturday. 

“It is an uphill climb to convince the powers that be that this is important,” Griffith said.

He attended the March in 2017, during which he said it was pouring rain.

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"Broken Down"

 

Raskin evaluates the possibility of peace in the Middle East after recent trip

Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md.). COURTESY PHOTOCongressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md.). COURTESY PHOTO  More than a year after being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) got his first bit of foreign policy experience after returning from a Congressional trip to the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Raskin, along with 10 other Democratic members of Congress including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), visited Israel, Jordan and Afghanistan, meeting with heads of state in all three countries.

For Raskin, who is midway through his first term in Congress and serves on the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees, said the trip was particularly eye-opening, especially into the current stalemate on peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders and the United States’ involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

“As far I can tell, the peace process has broken down completely,” Raskin said of peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

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A win for the rule of law

Federal judge rules lawsuit can proceed against President Trump

gavel2 1 Federal judge Peter J. Messitte ruled Friday that a joint lawsuit filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia against President Donald J. Trump can proceed, refusing the government’s request to drop the case.

Last June, D.C. and Maryland, announced they were suing Trump for violating the Emoluments Clause in the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits elected officials from receiving any present, title or emolument from a foreign head of state. Maryland and D.C.’s lawsuit against Trump alleges he has received emoluments through his various businesses, which Maryland and D.C. claim have become a hotspot for foreign dignitaries looking to curry favor with the president by patronizing his businesses.

“Today’s decision is a win for the rule of law, and soundly rejects the Trump administration’s argument that nobody can challenge the President’s illegal conduct,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.

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Local students run for Governor ... in Kansas

gabrielle zwiGabrielle Zwi COURTESY PHOTOIlan Cohen and Gabrielle Zwi have neither set foot in Kansas nor graduated from high school, but Kansas voters could soon count one or both county teenagers among their choices to be the state’s next governor. 

“Kansas is not one of the states I have visited – nor is any of the states bordering Kansas,” he said, while Zwi admitted she might have passed through the Jayhawk state in transit but has never “been there.”

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Personal experience of Florida shooting

It was almost the end of the school day for 14-year-old Isabella on Valentine’s Day when she heard an alarm ring. The ninth-grader at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. ran back to her classroom, only to discover that the door was locked.

“She started pounding on the door,” but no one opened it, said Isabella’s aunt, Veronica Penaranda of Bethesda.

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Women’s March draws record crowd

Womens March on WashingtonHuge crowds show up at the Mall to protest.       PHOTO BY NICKOLAI SUKHAREV  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thousands marched on the nation’s capital Saturday in support of women’s rights and gender equality. 

“We understand that a year ago Donald Trump and Mike Pence were sworn in and immediately began turning the clock back on women’s rights, worker’s rights, LGBT rights, and our fundamental values of inclusion, opportunity and tolerance,” said Takoma Park resident and current Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez speaking to a crowd gathered around the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Perez, who served one term on the Montgomery County Council, urged people to stand up for progressive beliefs and to “organize, mobilize and vote for Democrats.”

Marking the one-year anniversary of the 2017 presidential inauguration, the march drew thousands from around the region and country, many of whom held signs, to protest the actions and rhetoric of the Trump administration.

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Raskin works to evaluate Presidential mental fitness

Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md.)  COURTESY PHOTO Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md.)       COURTESY PHOTO  While the physical examination President Trump undertook last Friday may not have included an evaluation of the President’s mental health, the discussions of Trump’s mental health and fitness have put freshman Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-8th District) in the spotlight to an extent rarely experienced by first-term House members.

Raskin, who voters elected to the House after nine years representing parts of Silver Spring and Takoma Park in the General Assembly, has become a regular on the cable news circuit in the wake of revelations made in “Fire and Fury,” the explosive tell-all book by Michael Wolff, which has shined a spotlight both on Trump’s potential unfitness for office, and on Raskin’s efforts to create a Constitutional process to evaluate the fitness for the office of President, now and in the future. 

But despite the recent attention, Raskin has been talking about evaluating U.S. Presidents’ fitness to serve since last May, when he introduced the Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity Act to establish a permanent body with authority to declare whether the President can discharge the powers and duties of his office.

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Raskin’s 25th Amendment bill picks up co-sponsors

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Representative Jamie Raskin’s 25th Amendment bill is picking up momentum in Congress. As of today, 50 cosponsors have signed on to the ‘Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity Act’ (H.R. 1987), which will establish the Constitutionally-provided and Congressionally-appointed “body” we need to determine presidential capacity with the Vice President.

Under Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet or the Vice President and a majority of “such other body as Congress may by law provide” can determine in the event of a crisis that the President is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” due to physical or mental incapacity.

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