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EU, U.S. relations sinking further after divisive Trump tour

BRUSSELS (AP) — After a week of the worst barrage of insults yet from U.S. President Donald Trump, the European Union is looking westward toward the White House less and less.

Making it worse, Trump spent Monday cozying up to EU adversary Vladimir Putin in an extraordinary chummy summit with the Russian leader in Helsinki.

Never mind. In an age when Trump has made political optics all-important, on Tuesday the EU struck back. Key EU leaders were in the far east in Japan and China looking for the trust, friendship and cooperation they could no longer get from a century-old ally.

Trump’s embrace of Putin and the EU’s Asian outreach highlight the yawning rift, widening more by the day, in a trans-Atlantic unity that has been the bedrock of international politics for the better part of a century, as countless graves of U.S. soldiers buried in European soil bear witness to.

Trump’s abrasiveness and “America First” insistence had been a given even before he became president. Europe’s increasing resignation to letting go of the cherished link to the White House is much more recent.

Immigrant children describe hunger and cold in detention

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Wet and muddy from their trek across the Mexican border, immigrant children say they sat or lay on the cold, concrete floor of the immigration holding centers where they were taken.

It was hard to sleep with lights shining all night and guards kicking their feet, they say. They were hungry, after being given what they say were frozen sandwiches and smelly food.

Younger children cried in caged areas where they were crammed in with teens, and they clamored for their parents. Toilets were filthy, and running water was scarce, they say. They waited, unsure and frightened of what the future might bring.

“I didn’t know where my mother was,” said Griselda, 16, of Guatemala, who entered the U.S. with her mother in the McAllen, Texas, area. “I saw girls ask where their mothers were, but the guards would not tell them.”

The children’s descriptions of various facilities are part of a voluminous and at times scathing report filed in federal court this week in Los Angeles in a case over whether the Trump administration is meeting its obligations under a long-standing settlement governing how young immigrants should be treated in custody.

Obama delivers veiled rebuke to Trump in Mandela address

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — In his highest profile speech since leaving office, former U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday denounced the policies of President Donald Trump without mentioning his name, taking aim at the “politics of fear, resentment, retrenchment,” and decrying leaders who are caught lying and “just double down and lie some more.”

Obama was cheered by thousands in Johannesburg’s Wanderers Stadium as he marked the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth by urging respect for human rights, the free press and other values he said were under threat.

He rallied people to keep alive the ideals that the anti-apartheid activist worked for as the first black president of South Africa, including democracy, diversity, gender equality and tolerance.

Obama opened by calling today’s times “strange and uncertain,” adding that “each day’s news cycle is bringing more head-spinning and disturbing headlines.”

“We see much of the world threatening to return to a more dangerous, more brutal, way of doing business,” he said.

Twitter suspended 58 million accounts in 4Q

NEW YORK (AP) — Twitter suspended at least 58 million user accounts in the final three months of 2017, according to data obtained by The Associated Press. The figure highlights the company’s newly aggressive stance against malicious or suspicious accounts in the wake of Russian disinformation efforts during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

Last week, Twitter confirmed a Washington Post report that it had suspended 70 million accounts in May and June. The huge number of suspensions have raised questions as to whether the crackdown could affect Twitter’s user growth and whether the company should have warned investors earlier. The company has been struggling with user growth compared to rivals like Instagram and Facebook.

The number of suspended accounts originated with Twitter’s “firehose,” a data stream it makes available to academics, companies and others willing to pay for it.

The new figure sheds light on Twitter’s attempt to improve “information quality” on its service, its term for countering fake accounts, bots, disinformation and other malicious occurrences. Such activity was rampant on Twitter and other social-media networks during the 2016 campaign, much of it originating with the Internet Research Agency, a since-shuttered Russian “troll farm” implicated in election-disruption efforts by the U.S. special counsel and congressional investigations.

Suspensions surged over the fourth quarter. Twitter suspended roughly 15 million accounts last October. That number jumped by two-thirds to more than 25 million in December.