Republicans complain, convincingly or not, that the Obama administration isn't doing enough to control the northward flow of undocumented immigrants. But regardless of what La Migra is doing, U.S. federal banking regulators are making immigration less attractive and more costly, reports Michael Corkery in The New York Times.
Most immigrants who make the arduous journey to cross the U.S. border illegally don't do it for fun or to binge-watch reality TV — they do it for the money. In the U.S., even a day laborer or hotel cleaner can usually earn enough to buy a car, refrigerator, and other consumer goods, and often more importantly, send money back home to support the family. Immigrants, in the U.S. legally and not, send billions of dollars — $51.1 billion in 2012 — back to their home countries, with almost half of those remittances flowing down to Mexico.
As bank regulators crack down on money transfers abroad to fight money laundering, many banks are responding by getting out of the money-transfer business. Prices are expected to rise, increasing costs for immigrants and decreasing the amount that reaches their families. Corkery explains:
Regulators say the banking system was being exploited by terrorists and drug lords seeking to launder money. While they have not banned banks from engaging in higher-risk businesses like money transfers to certain countries, they acknowledge that banks must now invest significantly more to monitor the money moving through their systems or face substantial penalties.... Even with the current relatively low remittance fees, the costs can still add up. Some Latin American immigrants say they regularly send three remittances a week to pay for last-minute school supplies or rent. [New York Times]
This trend will hurt the immigrants more than the banks, of course. It's not clear how much it's harming terrorists and narcotraffickers. Peter Weber
A new study in the wake of the Flint, Michigan, water contamination crisis uncovered unsettling trends in fertility rates and fetal deaths during the time period the city was grappling with high levels of lead in its water supply. The working paper by West Virginia University's Daniel Grossman and University of Kansas's David Slusky concluded that "between 198 and 276 more children would have been born had Flint not enacted the switch in water."
Fetal deaths, when pregnancies last longer than 20 weeks but don't result in a live birth, rose 58 percent from April 2014 to 2016. Fertility rates dropped by 12 percent during that time period. "Either Flint residents were unable to conceive children, or women were having more miscarriages during this time," Slusky said.
The timing of these shifts is notable, as it was in 2014 when Flint's water was contaminated with dangerous levels of lead after the local government, under a state-appointed emergency manager, changed the city's water sources. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that lead "can damage a developing baby's nervous system, causing miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as infertility in both men and women," USA Today reported.
Trump to sign executive order allowing the Treasury Department to target companies, individuals that trade with North Korea
President Trump announced a new executive order on Thursday that will allow the Treasury Department to target companies and individuals that trade with North Korea, CNN reports. "It is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal rogue regime," Trump said during a press conference with the leaders of Japan and South Korea.
The order will allow Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin "discretion to target any foreign bank knowingly facilitating specific transactions tied to trade with North Korea," Trump said.
Trump also praised Chinese President Xi Jinping's decision to limit financial relations with North Korea through Chinese banks as being "very bold" and "unexpected," The Washington Post reports. "I must tell you this is a complete denuclearization of North Korea that we seek," Trump added.
Earlier in the week, Trump told the United Nations General Assembly that he might "totally destroy" North Korea if Pyongyang continues to menace the United States and its allies. Trump has also warned that "talking is not the answer" for dealing with the regime earlier this month. However, when asked at Thursday's press conference if a dialogue with North Korea is still possible, CNN reports that Trump answered: "Why not?"
Watch Trump's comments below. Jeva Lange
JUST IN: Trump signs order to "target individuals, companies, financial institutions that finance and facilitate trade with North Korea" pic.twitter.com/CQ71vA37Qs
— CNN International (@cnni) September 21, 2017
Director Wes Anderson returns in 2018 with Isle of Dogs, his first film since 2014's Grand Budapest Hotel, and the highly-anticipated trailer has just landed. Isle of Dogs marks Anderson's return to stop-motion animation — his first since 2009's Fantastic Mr. Fox — and the voice roles are stacked: Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Greta Gerwig, Bryan Cranston, Tilda Swinton, Yoko Ono, and Edward Norton are just some of the names on the bill.
— Isle of Dogs (@isleofdogsmovie) September 21, 2017
Set in a dystopian future where Japan has banished canines, Isle of Dogs follows a boy, Rex (played by Norton), as he searches for his lost dog on a radioactive garbage island. Anderson has cited the influential Japanese director Akira Kurosawa as one of the inspirations for the film, although Isle of Dogs has sparked backlash for "whitewashing" its Japanese characters with white voice actors. Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton, both a part of Anderson's cast, have faced such allegations before, for rolls in Ghost in the Shell and Doctor Strange respectively.
Isle of Dogs will be in theaters in the U.S. on March 23, 2018. Watch the trailer below. Jeva Lange
— Isle of Dogs (@isleofdogsmovie) September 21, 2017
North Korea's top diplomat didn't seem fazed by President Trump's vow to "totally destroy" the country if it threatens the U.S or its allies. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters Wednesday evening, the day after Trump bluntly called out North Korea's nuclear activity in his debut address before the United Nations General Assembly, that Trump's speech was like the "sound of a dog barking."
"There is a saying that goes: 'Even when dogs bark, the parade goes on,'" Ri said, in what marked North Korea's first response to Trump's remarks. "If [Trump] intended to scare us with the sound of a dog barking, then he is clearly dreaming."
Asked about Trump's new nickname of "Rocket Man" for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Ri simply said he "feels sorry for [Trump's] aides." Becca Stanek
An undocumented mother and father living in North Brownsville, Texas, were told by their local hospital that their 2-month-old son needed emergency stomach surgery that required them to travel to the only capable nearby facility, Driscoll Children's Hospital, in Corpus Christi, Texas. In order to get to Corpus Christi, Oscar and Irma Sanchez would have had to pass through a Border Patrol checkpoint. But even before they decided to go, a Border Patrol agent showed up at the hospital, likely summoned by a nurse, and told the parents that he would escort them through the checkpoint but arrest them and put them in deportation proceedings afterwards, NPR reports. The Sanchezes agreed to go:
The Border Patrol followed the ambulance, the night of May 24, as it raced to Corpus through desolate ranchland, carrying Oscar, Irma, and tiny Isaac — with an IV in his arm and a tube in his stomach. Once they arrived at Driscoll Children's Hospital, the green-uniformed agents never left the undocumented couple's side. Officers followed the father to the bathroom and the cafeteria and asked the mother to leave the door open when she breast-fed Isaac.
"Everywhere we went in the hospital," Oscar says, "they followed us." [NPR]
Oscar and Irma Sanchez have no criminal records and "advocates are puzzled why the Border Patrol chose to put the Sanchezes under such intense supervision, which one would expect for higher-value targets like drug traffickers or MS-13 gang members," NPR writes. Additionally, the Sanchezes' case raises immigration advocates' concerns about the Trump administration's treatment of "sensitive locations," or safe zones. Under President Obama, the Department of Homeland Security avoided arresting immigrants at hospitals, schools, churches, or public demonstrations.
"That's how you treat criminals that are harmful, and that's understandable for our own protection," said immigrant advocate Ana Hinojosa. "But [the Sanchezes are] a family that's just here trying to make a living, provide an education and a future for their children." Read or listen to the full story at NPR. Jeva Lange
A British boy is being hailed as a hero after rescuing five beachgoers in the span of just two days. Steffan Williams, 8, was kayaking in the sea, close to a treacherous stretch of coastline where the tide can trap unknowing tourists, when he spotted an elderly woman and two teens trapped on a rock. Grabbing his rubber dinghy, he towed them to shore. A day later, Steffan noticed two more teens stranded on the very same rock, frantically waving to get his attention, and notified the local lifeguard team. "I want to be a lifeboat person when I get the chance," says the youngster. Christina Colizza
Mosul is coming back to life. Two months after Iraqi forces drove ISIS from the city following a brutal occupation, its residents have staged an impromptu book festival at the gutted Mosul University library. Once home to 3 million books, the building's interior was reduced to ashes by the militants. But volunteers managed to recover 36,000 volumes from the ruins — including a number of ancient manuscripts. They set them, along with books donated from around the world, on outdoor shelves for anyone to read. "I used to weep for what happened," says volunteer Yomna Ebeid. "Now I am confident [that the library] can return better than ever." Christina Colizza