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Donald Trump Visits US-Mexico, Reiterating Demand For Wall

On Tuesday, Donald Trump in a prime-time address to the nation appealed to the American people to pressure legislators to fund the border wall and end the government shutdown

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Caravans from Central America have inflamed the debate over U.S. immigration policy, with U.S. President Donald Trump using the migrants to try to secure backing for his plan to build a border wall on the frontier with Mexico., VOA

US President Donald Trump visited the country’s southern border with Mexico, where he reiterated his demand to build a wall between the two nations to end the “growing humanitarian and security crisis” in the region.

He arrived at the border town of McAllen on Thursday where he listened to tragic stories from people who described violent deaths of siblings and sons, including one woman whose son, a Border Patrol agent, had been killed by an unauthorised immigrant, reports The New York Times.

Flanked by Border Patrol officers, as well as Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, and a cache of drugs, cash and weapons seized by the authorities at the border, Trump blamed the protracted shutdown of the federal government, now in its 20th day, on the Democrats.

“If we had a barrier of any kind, whether it’s steel or concrete,” Trump said of tragic stories involving violence and human trafficking, “they wouldn’t even bother trying. We could stop that cold”.

Border Patrol officers used visual aids showing stash houses, road checkpoints and drug caches to emphasise the demand for border security and a wall.

Trump repeated his demand for the money from Congress while telling the group that Mexico would somehow provide funds indirectly for the wall, a contradiction of what he said in December when he wrote in a Twitter post, “I often stated, ‘One way or the other, Mexico is going to pay for the Wall’.”

“I didn’t say they’re going to write me a check for $10 billion or $20 billion,” Trump said.

“If Congress approves this trade bill, they’ll pay for the wall many times over. When I say Mexico’s going to pay for the wall, that’s what I mean.”

Donald Trump, president
Trump visits US-Mexico border, reiterates demand for wall. VOA

The new trade deal, the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, does not stipulate that Mexico provide funds for the wall, and has not been approved by Congress.

Before Air Force One landed in Texas on Thursday, a crowd of supporters with flags and “build the wall” signs gathered near the Rio Grande.

But as the government shutdown neared the end of its third week, the President left Washington with no additional negotiations scheduled with congressional leaders over a possible compromise that could both provide border security and open the government.

In remarks to reporters later on Thursday, Trump did not rule out declaring a state of national emergency that could allow him to bypass Congress to fund the wall, The New York Times reported.

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Asked if he would make such a declaration, an action that would likely face legal challenges, Trump said: “If this doesn’t work out, probably I will do it. I would almost say definitely.”

Trump’s border visit comes a day after he held a brief meeting with Democrat and Republican leaders in the White House that ended abruptly when he stormed out after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rebuffed his overture to reopen the government in exchange for wall funding.

Pelosi and the Democrats have consistently said they would be willing to negotiate border security issues with him if he would reopen the government, even as the House Speaker has held firm to the position that she does not support funding for a wall.

On Tuesday, Donald Trump in a prime-time address to the nation appealed to the American people to pressure legislators to fund the border wall and end the government shutdown. (IANS)

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US Preschoolers on Government Food Aid Grown Less Pudgy: Study

Obesity rates dropped steadily to about 14% in 2016

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US, Preschoolers, Government
A photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in a Federal building in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2019. (Photo: Diaa Bekheet). Preschoolers on government food aid have grown a little less pudgy, a U.S. study found. A photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in a Federal building in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2019. (Photo: Diaa Bekheet). VOA

Preschoolers on government food aid have grown a little less pudgy, a U.S. study found, offering fresh evidence that previous signs of declining obesity rates weren’t a fluke.

Obesity rates dropped steadily to about 14% in 2016 — the latest data available — from 16% in 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

“It gives us more hope that this is a real change,” said Heidi Blanck, who heads obesity prevention at the CDC.

The results were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

US, Preschoolers, Government
Preschoolers on government food aid have grown a little less pudgy. VOA

The improvement affected youngsters ages 2 through 4 who receive food vouchers and other services in the federal Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. About 1 in 5 U.S. kids that age were enrolled in 2016.

An earlier report involving program participants the same age found at least small declines in obesity in 18 states between 2008 and 2011. That was the first decline after years of increases that later plateaued, and researchers weren’t sure if it was just a blip.

Improvements in food options in that program including adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains may have contributed to the back-to-back obesity declines, researchers said. Other data show obesity rates in 2016 were stable but similar, about 14 percent, for children aged 2 to 5 who were not enrolled in the program, Blanck noted.

While too many U.S. children are still too heavy, the findings should be celebrated, said Dr. William Dietz, a former CDC obesity expert. “The changes are meaningful and substantial.”

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Dietz said program changes that cut the amount of juice allowed and switched from high-fat to low-fat milk likely had the biggest impact. He estimated that amounted to an average of 9,000 fewer monthly calories per child.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends low-fat milk for children. It also suggests kids should limit juice intake and choose fresh fruits instead.

Further reducing U.S. childhood obesity will require broader changes — such as encouraging families and day care centers to routinely serve fruits, vegetables and whole grains; and employers to extend parental leave to make breastfeeding easier for new mothers, said Maureen Black, a child development and nutrition specialist at the University of Maryland.

Studies have shown breastfed infants are less likely than others to become obese later on. (VOA)