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Noted
July 7, 2014
CC by: Daniel Lobo

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

This just in
2:36 p.m. ET
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

The first Republican debate, which is capped at 10 candidates, is now expected to include Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and John Kasich, The New York Times has estimated. While Fox News will announce the official 10 candidates after Tuesday's 5 p.m. polling deadline, according to their criteria, it appears that Christie and Kasich will have firmly made the cut, with Rick Perry, who had been neck-and-neck in earlier polls, falling to 11th place with 2.0 percent of the vote.

Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki likewise did not make the cut, and are expected to be designated to the earlier 5 p.m. debate for those polling outside the top 10. Trump, meanwhile, leads the top 10 contenders with 23.2 percent of the vote, and will be appearing in Cleveland on Thursday at 9 p.m. alongside his fellow presidential hopefuls. Jeva Lange

Trump mania explained
1:56 p.m. ET
Matthew Busch/Getty Images

Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes finally answered the question that political pollsters have been struggling to answer: Why is Donald Trump so popular across so many demographic groups? His theory is that while "everybody is trying to be the kinder, gentler, you know, the compassionate conservative," that's not what the "average American" actually wants.

He broke it down further, using a dog analogy. "The average American," Starnes explained, "they don't want one of those metrosexual purse dogs, they want a pit bull in the White House." Donald Trump, presumably, is the pit bull. A candidate such as Jeb Bush, in Starnes' opinion, is the "metrosexual purse dog."

In polls that came out this week, Trump led the GOP presidential field by a 2-to-1 advantage, garnering support from 26 percent of respondents in both the latest Monmouth University poll and the latest Fox poll. While political pundits were at first leery of Trump's staying power, Starnes said he knew all along that Trump's support would only continue to grow.

"I might not be the brightest bulb in the lava lamp," Starnes said, "but I came out with a commentary that aired all across the country that said 'do not underestimate Donald Trump.' This is the guy who is saying what the American working man and the American working woman want to hear." Becca Stanek

rip cecil
1:39 p.m. ET
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

People will try to make a dime off of anything, including, apparently, Cecil the lion. Killed last month in Zimbabwe by a dentist, Cecil has been all over headlines recently (Was Jericho the Lion also murdered? What about this other lion?), and his likeness could soon end up stores, too. Motherboard reports that there have already been four trademark applications filed to the United States Patent and Trademark office, all of which are vying to claim Cecil for themselves.

The four applications were all filed for "paraphernalia," meaning the companies are looking to claim the rights to Cecil in order to make T-shirts, stuffed animals, and home decor. A travel agency, the maker of Beanie Babies, and the toy company responsible for plush toys of One Direction band members all filed for trademarks.

If these companies are really going to cash in on the Cecil craze, though, they may have already missed their window of opportunity: Motherboard points out that the Cecil the lion hype is unlikely to last the duration of the lengthy legal process required to acquire a trademark. Jeva Lange

nose knows
1:01 p.m. ET
Jennifer Polixenni Brankin/Getty Images

Being blind or deaf poses some very serious problems to living a normal life. But what about losing your sense of smell?

Sure, you would be blissfully unaware of some of the more unpleasant smells in the world (shout out to hot garbage) — but what must it feel like to not experience the aroma of delicious barbecue wafting from the grill, or the scent of an asphalt driveway after the rain, or that indescribably delicious smell of a newborn baby?

Our sense of smell is deeply intertwined with our memories and emotions, meaning that those who lose their ability to smell through accident or illness experience "a strong sense of loss," writes Emma Young at Mosaic. Young spoke with Nick, a 34-year-old who lost his sense of smell after a hockey accident last year. While Nick is thankful to be alive, it's clear that losing his sense of smell (doctors suspect his olfactory nerve cells were damaged or totally destroyed after he sustained a head injury) has come with an enormous emotional toll.

While the tongue can still taste sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami flavors, "more complex flavors — like grapefruit or barbecued steak — depend on smell," Young writes. Nick, who works at a craft brewery, says that without his sense of smell, his favorite beer is "a shell of its former self" to him now. He knows that the hops should give off notes of pine, citrus, and grapefruit, but he can no longer confirm that. He has also begun to rely on salty and spicy foods to whet his appetite now that the subtleties of flavor that come with foods' aromas are lost on him.

But the saddest part of Nick's ailment may be how once visceral experiences have now lost a dimension. As Nick puts it:

"I walk into my parents' house or my wife's family's house — and it doesn't have that smell. And I miss the ambience and the smells when there's an Eagles game, and everyone sets up grills in all the parking lots in south Philly, and grill up all kinds of crazy food items, and drink beer, hours before the game starts. Stuff you are used to... it's just gone." [Mosaic]

Read the full story at Mosaic. Samantha Rollins

nice try
12:33 p.m. ET

It's official: You can't out-Trump The Donald.

In response to GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump releasing his competitor Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)'s personal phone number during a very on-brand speech last month, Gawker retaliated in kind by publishing the real-estate mogul's own digits. But Trump is Trump, and he will take your best barbs and turn them in his favor. Behold, The Donald's new voicemail greeting, courtesy of NBC's Frank Thorp:

Your move, America. Kimberly Alters

This just in
12:30 p.m. ET
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The family of Sandra Bland, a Chicago native who was found dead of apparent suicide in her jail cell last month, has filed a wrongful death suit against the Texas trooper, sheriff's office, and county jailers involved in her arrest, Reuters reports. The suit claims the officials violated Bland's constitutional rights and failed to provide her with medical care, although officials have claimed she was not mistreated.

Bland, 28, who was black, was arrested on July 10 by a white state trooper, Brian Encinia, after failing to signal a lane change. She was found dead with a trash bag around her neck in an apparent hanging on July 13. Jeva Lange

Fed cred
11:48 a.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Fed, America's central bank, has two jobs. It's supposed to maintain full employment, and keep inflation from getting out of hand. Most people interpret the latter objective as simply stopping inflation from getting too high, but the responsibility actually goes two ways. Inflation also must be kept from getting too low, because it represents a shortfall of aggregate demand, prevents quick price adjustment, and makes a liquidity trap harder to avoid. Price stability, neither too low nor too high, is the mandate. That's defined by the Fed itself as an inflation rate of 2 percent.

Economist Jared Bernstein, in a letter to Fed Chair Janet Yellen, points out that the Fed hasn't hit its inflation target for over three consecutive years — and it's actually getting worse over time:

The Fed is reportedly likely to raise interest rates — so it can get ahead of increasing inflation, supposedly — in September. It is hard to explain why. Ryan Cooper

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