World Cup 2018

The World Cup is moving into the quarterfinals and it’s:

Uruguay against France and Brazil versus Belgium on Friday;

Russia against Croatia and Sweden against England on Saturday.

It’s interesting that 3 of the 4 matches to get into that second set of teams were decided by penalty kicks and none of the first four were.

If you look at the FIFA rankings you see:

Brazil at number 2, Belgium at 3, France at 7, England at 12, Uruguay at 14, Croatia at 20, Sweden at 24, and Russia at … 70. Of course Russia is at home which helps a lot.

If you go back to the Las Vegas odds at the beginning we have:

Brazil 5-1 (second ranked), France 11-2 (third), Belgium 12-1 (sixth), England 20-1 (7th), Uruguay 25-1 (9th), Russia and Croatia both 30-1 (tied for 10th), and Sweden 80-1 (tied for 15th).

The current odds are:

Brazil – 9/4, France – 4/1, England – 4/1, Belgium – 5/1, Croatia – 11/2, Uruguay – 14/1, Russia – 20/1, Sweden – 25/1.

So Sweden seems to be the consensus team least likely to win and I’m rooting for them. Ah well.

Trump doesn’t care about the law

I posted a week ago that ICE and CBP don’t care too much about following the law. Donald Trump shows where this attitude comes from in a series of tweets:

We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents..

So he’s saying the US should stop following the law to uphold Law and Order? Interesting. A later tweet:

Hiring manythousands of judges, and going through a long and complicated legal process, is not the way to go – will always be disfunctional. People must simply be stopped at the Border and told they cannot come into the U.S. illegally.

He again suggests the US should do something illegal and throws in a lie–if people come to the border to ask for asylum they’re not illegal. This is part of his political correctness, anything he does is fine while anything he doesn’t like is illegal.

And now we hear the demands

The Trump administration has changed the policy to make it so they ‘fully enforce’ the immigration law so that every ‘illegal’ immigrant (even if they’re asking for asylum which makes them legal) is jailed even if they are separated from their children. They’re basically kidnapping children–do they plan to start strictly enforcing our speed limits the same way?

Anyway, kidnappers have demands and here are the administration’s demands:

On Monday, new reporting continued to reveal the realities of the Trump administration policy of forcibly separating children from their adult guardians who cross the border without U.S. citizenship. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly are both on record endorsing the practice as a means of deterring undocumented immigrants from entering the country.

And they have very specific demands:

Q Thank you, Sarah. If the administration is, as it says, not using the children as pawns in this situation, then why not just have Congress pass legislation that narrowly deals with this family separation issue, and sign it, and then deal with the other aspects of the immigration system that the President wants to overhaul at a different time?

MS. SANDERS: Once again, we want to fix the entire system. We don’t want to just tinker with it. The President is tired of watching people kick it down the road and not take responsibility and not fix the problems that we have.

By the way, forcibly separating children from their parents is catastrophic:

This is what happens inside children when they are forcibly separated from their parents.

Their heart rate goes up. Their body releases a flood of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Those stress hormones can start killing off dendrites – the little branches in brain cells that transmit messages. In time, the stress can start killing off neurons and – especially in young children – wreaking dramatic and long-term damage, both psychologically and to the physical structure of the brain.

President Trump goes on and on about immigrants committing crimes, it turns out he’s helping to make criminals:

Research on aboriginal children in Australia who were removed from their families also showed long-lasting effects. They were nearly twice as likely to be arrested or criminally charged as adults, 60 percent more likely to have alcohol-abuse problems and more than twice as likely to struggle with gambling.


The five warmest years since 1880 have taken place since 2010 so at some point the Antarctic will really start melting and that point is getting closer:

Antarctica, the planet’s largest ice sheet, lost 219 billion tons of ice annually from 2012 through 2017 – approximately triple the 73 billion ton melt rate of a decade ago, the scientists concluded. From 1992 through 1997, Antarctica lost 49 billion tons of ice annually.

Finally, the largest part of the continent, East Antarctica, has remained more stable and didn’t contribute much ice to the ocean during the period of study, the assessment says. However, in the last five years, it too has begun to lose ice, perhaps as much as 28 billion tons per year, although the uncertainty surrounding this number remains high.

Good thing it’s all a hoax according to Trump.

Trump’s Inhumanity

The United States has treated immigrants horribly for as long as the nation has existed.

During the Depression, hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans (actual US citizens) were deported. The US famously allowed very few Jews fleeing Nazi Germany including the SS St Louis incident where a boat of 900 was turned back to Europe with 250 eventually being killed by the Nazis. Then there’s Operation Wetback which deported up to a million people (given the name, I don’t think I need to say why it was a problem).

So, immigration and degradation go together in the US (including during the Obama administration) and yet the Trump administration has actually succeeded in making it even more inhumane:

The Trump administration’s policy of splitting up families is creating a burgeoning population of dislocated and frightened children, held in makeshift detention centers near the border, including one in a former Walmart, or scattered in shelters and foster homes across the country. As the children and parents experience the fallout of forced separation by US authorities, advocates are struggling to get even basic information about the location and status of these detainees.

The Trump administration says parents are separated from their children because of their misdemeanor offense of crossing into the border illegally, which requires them to be taken into federal custody where children cannot join them. But once parents have served their time for that minor federal offense, they still can face months in ICE detention, often with no idea where their children are.

“Can you tell us any other time when someone goes to jail for a misdemeanor, gets out, and still doesn’t get their child back?” said Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the ACLU who is suing the government on behalf of separated parents. “They’re keeping the child for months and months and months.”

And this being the Trump administration, it’s not working:

The Trump administration’s tactic of using child separations as a deterrent does not appear to be having a major effect on the flow of immigrants to South Texas. Dozens of migrants are still being picked up each day after rafting across the Rio Grande, many with children in tow. On Wednesday, 72 men and women as young as 18 and as old as 56 shuffled into a US district courtroom in McAllen, the clanking sound of their shackled ankles and wrists reverberating in the otherwise hushed room.

and the workers don’t know what they’re doing:

In late May, separated parents in McAllen were given a number to call HHS and try to locate their children. It was the wrong number. Last week, parents were given a handwritten note telling them to call ICE — not HHS — if they wanted information about how to reunite with their children. But parents did not have access to phones at the time, rendering the number useless.

and don’t understand about symbolism:

Aleman-Bendiks, the public defender, said several of her clients have told her their children were taken from them by Border Patrol agents who said they were going to give them a bath. As the hours passed, it dawned on the mothers the kids were not coming back.

Now they’re putting the parents into federal jails:

Although Seattle is some 1,500 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, the debate over family separations hit closer to home for the Evergreen State after dozens of undocumented immigrants were transferred last week to the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Most of them were from Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, she said, but there were also people from as far away as Eritrea. Many spoke of fleeing threats of rape, gang violence and political persecution, Jayapal said.

“It was absolutely heartbreaking. And I’ve been doing immigration-rights work for almost two decades. I am not new to these stories,” Jayapal told The Washington Post on Sunday. “I will tell you there was not a dry eye in the house. … Some of them heard their children screaming for them in the next room. Not a single one of them had been allowed to say goodbye or explain to them what was happening.”

Here’s an important point:

Ferguson said Washington state officials were looking into whether they had grounds to sue the federal government to halt the family separations. Last Thursday, he and Inslee sent a letter to several top immigration officials — including acting U.S. attorney Annette Hayes — demanding answers to questions about the women seeking asylum who were being transferred to the detention center in SeaTac.

“Where are their children and who is caring for them?” the letter asked. “Why are these women being held in prison while their asylum claims are resolved?”

That’s because the ‘right of asylum‘ is part of both international and US law:

The United States is obliged to recognize valid claims for asylum under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. As defined by these agreements, a refugee is a person who is outside his or her country of nationality (or place of habitual residence if stateless) who, owing to a fear of persecution on account of a protected ground, is unable or unwilling to avail himself of the protection of the state. Protected grounds include race, nationality, religion, political opinion and membership of a particular social group. The signatories to these agreements are further obliged not to return or “refoul” refugees to the place where they would face persecution.

This commitment was codified and expanded with the passing of the Refugee Act of 1980 by the United States Congress. Besides reiterating the definitions of the 1951 Convention and its Protocol, the Refugee Act provided for the establishment of an Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help refugees begin their lives in the U.S. The structure and procedures evolved and by 2004, federal handling of refugee affairs was led by the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) of the U.S. Department of State, working with the ORR at HHS. Asylum claims are mainly the responsibility of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Oh but, who cares about the law?

Trump administration: Criminal Banks shouldn’t get blamed

How friendly can the Trump administration be to banks? Pretty friendly:

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the nation’s main bank regulator, found “bank-specific instances of accounts being opened without proof of customer consent” as part of a review of more than 40 banks spurred by the Wells Fargo scandal, agency spokesman Bryan Hubbard told The Times in an email Friday.

However, the agency will not be naming the banks where it found potentially unauthorized accounts or providing details on banks’ specific conduct, he said.

Don’t worry, the spokesman for the OCC says it’s not a problem:

Though Hubbard said the agency would not release details of specific issues at specific banks, he did say that there were “isolated instances of employee misconduct with no clear connection to sales goals, incentives or quota programs.”

Hubbard said some banks showed they did not have proper controls in place while running short-term promotions, leading to cases where banks could not prove customers had authorized new accounts. In some cases, banks could not prove customers had given consent because of poor documentation, incomplete records or “technology issues,” he said.

Generally, Hubbard said the review did not find “systemic issues with bank employees opening accounts without the customer’s consent,” though most institutions did not take a “holistic” approach to managing risks associated with sales practices.

This is the same view that the police have for most criminals–if I only robbed one bank, they would give me a warning I assume.

And the Trump administration is just getting started:

Since taking over the OCC in November, Otting, a longtime commercial banker, has pushed to scale back rules and reporting requirements for banks, recently lifting restrictions — put in place by his predecessor — on banks offering small consumer loans. He’s also made it a priority for the OCC to rewrite federal rules that require banks to lend in low-income and minority communities.

A little history:

Before they reunited in Washington, Otting and Mnuchin were the chief executive and chairman, respectively, of Pasadena’s OneWest Bank, an institution built from the shell of failed mortgage lender IndyMac. Both Mnuchin and Otting faced questions about OneWest’s foreclosure practices during their confirmation hearings.

OneWest is the bank known for its foreclosures:

“Mr. Otting has no experience as a bank supervisor, but he has helped lead a bank that illegally foreclosed on working families and paid a multimillion dollar fine for defrauding the government,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in a statement to POLITICO.

“Just like Mr. Mnuchin, Mr. Otting made a fortune profiting off of a foreclosure crisis that devastated millions of Americans, including countless Nevadans,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who hails from Otting’s home state, said in a statement.

Last month, a reverse mortgage subsidiary of OneWest, now owned by CIT Group, reached an $89 million settlement with the Justice Department for allegedly defrauding the government by seeking insurance payments from the Federal Housing Administration that it did not qualify for. The allegations cover the period between 2011 and 2016; Otting was CEO of OneWest from 2010 to 2015.

You can see why Otting doesn’t want to punish other banks. He’s just another Trump guy who cares more about big business than everyday Americans.

Trump administration wants to get rid of protections for pre-existing conditions

Let’s see the Trump administration’s latest attempt to help the average American:

The Trump administration said in a court filing late Thursday that it will no longer defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act, including the requirement that people have health insurance and provisions that guarantee access to health insurance regardless of any medical conditions.

Both President Trump and leading Republicans have said they support protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but this was done with his knowledge:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a letter to Congress on Thursday that Trump, who campaigned on repealing the law and nearly did so his first year in office, approved the legal strategy.

And it  affects a huge number of people:

It confirms that a large fraction of non-elderly Americans have pre-existing health conditions: at least 23 percent of Americans (61 million people) using a narrow definition based on eligibility criteria for pre-ACA state high-risk pools, or as many as 51 percent (133 million people) using a broader definition closer to the underwriting criteria used by insurers prior to the ACA.

Between 2010 and 2014, when the ACA’s major health insurance reforms first took effect, the share of Americans with pre-existing conditions who went uninsured all year fell by 22 percent, meaning 3.6 million fewer people went uninsured.

And the effect is pretty bad:

a 2009 survey found that, among adults who had individual market coverage or shopped for it in the previous three years, 36 percent were denied coverage, charged more, or had exclusions placed on their policy due to pre-existing conditions. A report by the Government Accountability Office estimated that, as of early 2010, the denial rate among individual market applications was 19 percent, and the most common reason for denial was health status.

It’s part of a long term strategy (notice the post is from February):

Already in recent weeks, the Trump administration has shown little interest in enforcing Obamacare’s guarantee that healthy and sick people get access to the same type of health insurance.

For example, it hasn’t intervened in Idaho, where regulators recently told insurers they can simply disregard many of the Affordable Care Act rules and sell new “freedom plans” that discriminate against sicker enrollees.

The rules the Trump administration rolled out Tuesday relate to “short-term” health plans, coverage that is meant to fill gaps between more permanent policies (for someone who takes a few months off between jobs, for example).

Short-term coverage is allowed to skirt several of the health care law’s core provisions: Plans can deny people insurance based on their medical history, charge them higher premiums because of their preexisting medical conditions, and craft skimpy benefits packages that will appeal mostly to young and healthy people.

So, as usual, Trump claims he’s trying to help people as he makes things much worse for them.

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