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Solitary confinement, states sue Trump, and ISIS children: The Morning Rundown

California's attorney general called the president's justification for a national emergency a "hyped crisis."
Image: People gather on the U.S.-Mexico border barrier on the beach at the Pacific ocean on Feb. 15, 2019 in Tijuana, Mexico
People gather on the U.S.-Mexico border barrier on the beach at the Pacific ocean on Feb. 15, 2019 in Tijuana, Mexico.Mario Tama / Getty Images

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Sixteen states are suing President Donald Trump over his emergency declaration to build the border wall, one of the country's harshest solitary confinement units is exposed, and we look at how Western governments are dealing with children raised by Islamic State.

Here's all that and everything else we're watching today.

Build that wall? These states say not so fast.

When Trump announced he was declaring a national emergency to fund the border wall, he said he anticipated the move would provoke lawsuits. On Monday, 16 states — including New York and California — announced they were indeed suing the president.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the lawsuit was an attempt to stop Trump "unilaterally robbing taxpayer funds lawfully set aside by Congress for the people of our states."

The other states are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Virginia. Becerra slammed the president's justification for a national emergency as a "hyped crisis."

A border patrol agent on the U.S.-Mexico border.Scott Olson / Getty Images

A border patrol agent at the U.S.-Mexico border.(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

One of America's harshest isolation units was exposed by an inmate's letter

How did a desperate, handwritten note from a convicted rapist lead to Georgia curtailing the use of solitary confinement? Timothy Gumm wrote to a court explaining he had been kept in solitary for five years — a practice human rights advocates call torture.

That led to the state opening up the unit to outsiders, including a social psychologist who was shocked at what he saw: metal cells without openings, including one smeared with blood; mentally ill prisoners screaming in anguish; and a crudely drawn sign that said, "HELP."

The resulting settlement saw Georgia agree to curtail its use of solitary confinement — a small step in America’s slow-moving shift away from the practice.

What to do with the children of ISIS?

The caliphate established by the Islamic State has all but crumbled. But this throws up a problem: What to do with Westerners who traveled to live under ISIS, who now want to travel home? And what happens to their children?

"You cannot leave them in the desert, in the wilderness because they’re going to grow to be wild or feel the need or urge to exact revenge," said Fawaz Gerges, a professor at the London School of Economics, who is among those urging governments to take responsibility.

Trump has urged his European allies to take back hundreds of so-called foreign fighters and their families.

Roger Stone posts image of federal judge overseeing his case — next to a crosshair

Former Trump adviser Roger Stone has apologized and said the post had been "misinterpreted."

Stone, who has been charged with lying, witness tampering and obstruction, said it "was a random photo taken from the internet." It was taken down after an hour.

Roger Stone leaves a federal court earlier this month.Andrew Harnik / AP

'If she's alive, she will come back'

Migration has become such a divisive political issue that individual stories often get lost. What happens to those who go missing while in search of a better life?

NBC Left Field is chronicling some of these stories in a new video series: The Missing. It kicked off yesterday by documenting the family of Nomalanga Ndlovu. She disappeared while traveling from Zimbabwe into neighboring South Africa for work, leaving her child behind.

Later today, the next installment of the series will feature Honduras.


THINK about it

Trump's emergency declaration may have laid the groundwork for the president's own impeachment, a former counsel to the House Judiciary Committee writes in an opinion piece.


When done right, high-intensity interval training, commonly known as HIIT, will leave you feeling like you got a great workout. However, it can involve a lot of jumping, with knees and joints taking the brunt of the impact. Here are a few common mistakes — and how to fix them.

Quote of the day

"He saw clearly the unprecedented warming now playing out and made his views clear, even when few were willing to listen."

— Princeton University Professor Michael Oppenheimer describing Wallace Smith Broecker, the scientist who popularized the term "global warming." Broecker died in New York on Monday aged 87.

One fun thing

The filmmakers behind "RBG" — the Oscar-nominated film about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — speak with TODAY about their movie.

Ginsburg is lauded as a pop-culture icon arguably as much as for her towering status in the legal world.Rebecca Gibian / AP

Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

I'm Alexander Smith, senior reporter with NBC News Digital. I've been given parental custody of the Morning Rundown this week while Petra Cahill is on vacation.

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Thanks, Alexander Smith