Monday, June 30, 2014

WORLD CUP KISSES GOODBYE TO AFRICA

AP Photo

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- Nigeria and Algeria made World Cup history for Africa and now leave with their heads held high.
Despite tenacious resistance, Africa's last representatives were sent home on Monday by France and Germany.
Those two former champions will next play each other on Friday in Rio de Janeiro. That quarterfinal means Europe is guaranteed at least one semifinalist in this World Cup that has smiled on the Americas, supplier of eight of the last 16 teams.
With exceptional saves, goalkeepers again starred both in France's 2-0 win over Nigeria and Germany's 2-1 marathon against an Algerian team whose bravura has been among the many revelations of this surprise-packed tournament.
This was Algeria's first taste of World Cup knockout football, having never advanced from the group stages in three previous attempts.
Germany needed extra time to win after both teams failed to score in two absorbing halves, and it let Abdelmoumene Djabou get a goal back in the dying seconds, doing little for the three-time champion's credentials as a favorite to lift the trophy again on July 13.
France, winner in 1998, looks the sharper of the two. Germany's tactics of pushing players forward and leaving a large chunk of defending to goalkeeper Manuel Neuer would almost certainly undo it against a stronger attack.
Other highlights of another dramatic day at one of the best World Cups in memory included:
-France's Paul Pogba scored the 146th goal, pushing the tally from this tournament beyond that of South Africa in 2010, with 10 matches still to play.
--The goal total climbed to 150 by the end of Monday's two games, after an own-goal from Nigerian captain Joseph Yobo that sealed France's win, extra time strikes for Germany from Andre Schuerrle and Mesut Ozil, and Djabou's consolation goal. If the current average of more than 2 goals per game holds through to the final, Brazil could finish with the highest goals total of any of the 20 World Cups. The total to beat is 171, scored at France 1998.
-Luis Suarez confessed. Having previously denied that he bit Giorgio Chiellini, the disgraced Uruguay striker reversed course, apologized to the Italy defender and to "the entire football family" via Twitter and vowed that his third ban for biting would be his last.
Chiellini quickly tweeted back: "It's all forgotten. I hope FIFA will reduce your suspension."
Suarez is serving a four-month ban for what FIFA's disciplinary panel ruled was a "deliberate, intentional" and unprovoked bite in Uruguay's 1-0 group stages win against Italy. Without Suarez, Uruguay promptly lost 2-0 to Colombia in the last 16.
-Facebook said it passed the 1 billion mark in World Cup interactions. No other single event has generated this much activity in Facebook history.
Before Brazil, Africa never had two teams make the knockout stage at the same tournament. Like Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010), the Nigerians were hoping to reach their first quarterfinals after twice stalling at the last 16.
And with goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama flying like Superman, it seemed for a long while that the Nigerians might do it.
The Super Eagles sank claws into France in the first half, with tough physicality viewed leniently by U.S. referee Mark Geiger. In Paris, an ocean of fans watched on a giant outdoor screen at Paris City Hall. Encouragement even came from the famed Orsay museum, which is tweeting photos of blue-themed artworks to encourage Les Bleus. After Edgar Degas' "The Blue Dancers" on Sunday, Monday's choice was Lucien Levy-Dhurmer's "The Inlet."
France had the best first-half chances and squandered them. Pogba fired a right-footed, taekwondo kick-like volley straight at Enyeama. Brazilian TV's speed trap clocked the ball at 87 kilometers (54 miles) per hour off the midfielder's foot.
After Enyeama got a hand to Karim Benzema's second-half header, tipping it over his crossbar, the French striker kicked one of the posts in frustration.
In South Africa, goalkeepers complained of strange swerves from the ball and there were epic mistakes from Brazil's Julio Cesar and England's Robert Green.
But Brazil is becoming a gallery for their art.
Against Germany, Algeria's Rais Mbolhi somehow got fingertips to a pile-driver off the right foot of German captain Philipp Lahm and stopped a point-blank header from Thomas Mueller.
At the other end, Neuer dug himself out of a goal-mouth scramble and then hoofed an extraordinarily accurate kick up-field to Schuerrle, who couldn't capitalize on the chance, failing to wriggle free of an Algerian marker. Neuer also showed great athleticism and anticipation haring out of his box against Algerian attacks.
The acrobatics prompted a tweet of admiration from Gary Lineker, top scorer at the 1986 tournament for England: "The quality of goalkeeping at this World Cup has been extraordinarily high."
Enyeama will rue his mistake that led to the French breakthrough. He flapped at Mathieu Valbuena's corner. The ball flew kindly to Pogba, who stepped away from Yobo, his marker, to coolly head it in.
When the ball bounced off Yobo's leg to make it 2-0 for France, Paris crowds erupted with waving flags, raised fists and lusty renditions of the anthem, "La Marseillaise." With each additional victory, the team is winning forgiveness for the disgraceful strike by players at the last World Cup.
"This team is a pleasure to watch," French President Francois Hollande purred on Twitter.
Germany, less so. But if it finally hits top gear next Friday, their quarterfinal could be a classic.
OBAMA: I'LL ACT ON MY OWN ON IMMIGRATION
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Conceding defeat on a top domestic priority, President Barack Obama blamed a Republican "year of obstruction" for the demise of sweeping immigration legislation on Monday and said he would take new steps without Congress to fix as much of the system as he can on his own.
"The only thing I can't do is stand by and do nothing," the president said. But he gave few hints about what steps he might take by executive action.
Even as he blamed House Republicans for frustrating him on immigration, Obama asked Congress for more money and additional authority to deal with the unexpected crisis of a surge of unaccompanied Central American youths arriving by the thousands at the Southern border. Obama wants flexibility to speed the youths' deportations and $2 billion in new money to hire more immigration judges and open more detention facilities, requests that got a cool reception from congressional Republicans and angered advocates.
The twin announcements came as the administration confronted the tricky politics of immigration in a midterm election year with Democratic control of the Senate in jeopardy. The fast-developing humanitarian disaster on the border has provoked calls for a border crackdown at the same moment that immigration advocates are demanding Obama loosen deportation rules in the face of congressional inaction.
Obama's announcement came almost a year to the day after the Senate passed a historic immigration bill that would have spent billions to secure the border and offered a path to citizenship for many of the 11.5 million people now here illegally. Despite the efforts of an extraordinary coalition of businesses, unions, religious leaders, law enforcement officials and others, the GOP-led House never acted.
"Our country and our economy would be stronger today if House Republicans had allowed a simple yes-or-no vote on this bill or, for that matter, any bill," Obama said in the Rose Garden. "They'd be following the will of the majority of the American people, who support reform. And instead they've proven again and again that they're unwilling to stand up to the tea party in order to do what's best for the country."
Obama said that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, informed him last week that the House would not be taking up immigration legislation this year.
A growing number of advocates and congressional Democrats already have declared immigration dead, the victim, in part, of internal GOP politics, with the most conservative lawmakers resisting the calls of party leaders to back action and revive the GOP's standing with Latino voters. The Central American migrant surge, along with the surprise defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at the hands of an upstart candidate from the right who accused him of backing "amnesty," helped kill whatever chances remain.
Boehner blamed Obama for the outcome.
"I told the president what I have been telling him for months: the American people and their elected officials don't trust him to enforce the law as written. Until that changes, it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue," he said. Boehner called Obama's plan to go it alone "sad and disappointing."
Obama directed Homeland Security Department Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to present him by the end of the summer with steps he can take without congressional approval.
For now the White House said he'd refocus resources from the interior of the country to the border, a move that would effectively further reduce the number of deportations in the country's interior by stressing enforcement action on individuals who are either recent unlawful border crossers or who present a national security threat, public safety, or border security threat.
Johnson made his third visit Monday in the last six weeks to the Border Patrol's McCallen station in southernmost Texas, touring the location with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell. He said 150 more agents are being sent to the region to help deal with the surge.
Johnson has been weighing various additional steps to refocus deportation priorities on people with more serious criminal records, something the administration has already tried to do with mixed results. But advocates are pushing Obama for much more sweeping changes that would shield millions of immigrants now here illegally from deportation by expanding a two-year-old program that granted work permits to certain immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children.
It's not clear if the administration will take such steps, but in a meeting with advocates prior to his announcement Monday Obama pledged to take "aggressive" steps, according to three people who attended who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.
Many of those same advocates reacted harshly to Obama's plan Monday to seek $2 billion emergency money from Congress that would, among other things, help conduct "an aggressive deterrence strategy focused on the removal and repatriation of recent border crossers."
The Border Patrol has apprehended more than 52,000 child immigrants traveling on their own since October.
"A policy that speeds up their return at the risk of their due process rights is both heartbreaking and immoral," said Kica Matos, director of immigrant rights and racial justice at the Center for Community Change.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, accused Obama of seeking a "blank check" with no real solutions. "President Obama created this disaster at our Southern border and now he is asking American taxpayers to foot the bill," said Goodlatte.
GM SAFETY CRISIS GROWS AS RECALLS MOUNT

 General Motors' safety crisis deepened dramatically Monday when the automaker added 8.2 million vehicles to its ballooning list of cars recalled over faulty ignition switches.
The latest recalls involve mainly older midsize cars and bring GM's total recalls in North America to 29 million this year, surpassing the 22 million recalled by all automakers last year. They also raise questions about the safety of ignition switches in cars made by all manufacturers.
In the latest recalls, GM said keys may be jostled or accidentally bumped, causing the ignition to slip out of the "run" position. The recalls cover seven vehicles, including the Chevrolet Malibu from 1997 to 2005, the Pontiac Grand Prix from 2004 to 2008, and the 2003-2014 Cadillac CTS.
The company is aware of three deaths, eight injuries and seven crashes involving the vehicles, although it says there's no clear evidence that faulty switches caused the accidents. Air bags didn't deploy in the three fatal accidents, which is a sign that the ignition was out of position. But air bags may not deploy for other reasons as well.
A GM spokesman couldn't say Monday if more recalls are imminent. But this may be the end of the recalls associated with a 60-day review of all of the company's ignition switches. At the company's annual meeting earlier in June, CEO Mary Barra said she hoped most recalls related to that review would be completed by the end of the month.
Karl Brauer, an industry analyst with Kelley Blue Book, said the number of recalls - while huge - may be a good thing for the company in the long run.
"I think there's a new standard for what GM considers a potential safety defect, and Mary Barra has no tolerance or patience for potential safety defects that are unresolved," he said.
In a statement Monday, Barra said "we will act appropriately and without hesitation" if any new issues come to light.
Lance Cooper, a Marietta, Georgia, attorney who is suing GM, said he was not surprised by the additional recalls and expects even more. A company-funded investigation of the ignition switch problems by former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas found that GM had a dysfunctional corporate culture in which people didn't take responsibility to fix the problems, Cooper said.
"Cars got made that were defective. The buck kept getting passed, and this is what happened as a result," Cooper said.
The announcement of more recalls extends a crisis for GM that began in February with small-car ignition switch problems. GM recalled 2.6 million older small cars worldwide because the switches can unexpectedly slip from "run" to "accessory," shutting off the engines. That disables power steering and power brakes and can cause people to lose control of their cars. It also stops the air bags from inflating in a crash. GM has been forced to admit that it knew of the problem more than 10 years, yet it failed to recall the cars until this year.
GM has been reviewing the performance of its ignition switches since the first recalls were announced, and it continues to find more that can turn too easily. Of the 29 million vehicles recalled by the company this year, 17.1 million have been due to ignition switches.
The problem has drawn the attention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the government's road safety agency. On June 18, the agency opened two investigations into ignition switches in Chrysler minivans and SUVs, and acknowledged that it's looking at the whole industry.
The agency is looking into how long air bags remain active after the switches are moved out of the run position. In many cases, the answer is less than a second.
GM's conduct in the small-car recall already is under investigation by the Justice Department and both houses of Congress. Earlier this year, the company paid a $35 million fine to NHTSA for delays in reporting the small-car ignition switch problems.
GM's recalls on Monday bring this year's total so far to more than 40 million for the U.S. industry, far surpassing the old full-year record of 30.8 million from 2004.
The recalls come the same day the company's compensation consultant, Kenneth Feinberg, announced plans to pay victims of crashes caused by the defective small-car switches. Attorneys and lawmakers say about 100 people have died and hundreds were injured in crashes, although Feinberg said he didn't have a total.
Feinberg said the company has placed no limit on how much he can spend in total to compensate victims. But victims of the new set of recalls announced Monday can't file claims to the fund, which deals only with the small cars.
In the original recall, the ignition switches didn't meet GM's specifications but were used anyway, and they slipped too easily out of the "run" position.
The vehicles recalled Monday have switches that do conform to GM's specifications. In these cases, the keys can move the ignition out of position because of jarring, bumps from the driver's knee or the weight of a heavy key chain. The cars recalled Monday will get replacement keys; the small cars recalled in February are getting new ignitions.
In all the cases, the ignition switches out of the "run" position and into the "accessory" or "off" position.
GM is urging people to remove everything from their key rings until all of the recalled cars can be repaired.
Of the three people who died in crashes involving the newly recalled vehicles, it's unclear whether those deaths were ignition-related, said GM spokesman Alan Adler. In each of the cases the air bags didn't deploy, but there are many reasons air bags don't deploy, including the angle at which a car is hit and whether or not the occupants were belted, he said.
The Detroit company said it plans to take a $1.2 billion charge in the second quarter for recall-related expenses. Added to a $1.3 billion charge in the first quarter, that brings total recall expenses for the year to $2.5 billion.
GM also announced four other recalls Monday covering more than 200,000 additional vehicles. Most are to fix an electrical short in the driver's door that could disable the power locks and windows and even cause overheating.
GM has announced 54 separate recalls this year.
GM's stock fell 32 cents, or just under 1 percent, to close at $36.30 on Monday.
10 THINGS TO KNOW FOR TUESDAY
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:
1. RELIGIOUS RIGHTS VS. CONTRACEPTION RULE
The Supreme Court says companies that are closely held - 80 percent of U.S. corporations - and have religious objections can avoid birth control requirements in Obama's health care law.
2. UKRAINIAN FORCES WILL GO ON OFFENSIVE AGAINST REBELS
President Poroshenko halts the unilateral cease-fire with pro-Russian separatists and says that "we will attack and we will free our country."
3. BOY'S DEATH DRAWS ATTENTION TO IMMIGRATION PERILS
As Obama appeals to Congress for more money on the issue, the discovery of a dead 11-year-old Guatemalan on the Texas border highlights the dangers children face as they cross into the U.S. illegally.
4. BODIES OF MISSING ISRAELI TEENS FOUND
The discovery ends a search that led to Israel's largest ground operation in the Palestinian territory in nearly a decade and raised fears of renewed fighting with Hamas.
5. GM SAFETY CRISIS GROWS AS RECALLS MOUNT
General Motors' adds 8.2 million vehicles to its list of cars recalled over faulty ignition switches, bringing the company's total recalls in North America to 29 million this year.
6. WHY U.S. IS SENDING 300 MORE TROOPS TO IRAQ
Officials say the forces are being sent to Iraq to beef up security at the U.S. Embassy and elsewhere in the Baghdad area to protect U.S. citizens and property.
7. MENTAL DISORDER NOT A FACTOR IN PISTORIUS TRIAL
The Olympic athlete was not suffering from a mental illness when he killed his girlfriend and was able to understand what he had done, a psychiatric report says.
8. WHY MOST HEALTHY WOMEN CAN SKIP PELVIC EXAMS
The routine examinations don't benefit women who have no symptoms of disease and who aren't pregnant, and they can cause harm, the American College of Physicians says.
9. WHERE FRACKING STUDY FINDS NEW GAS WELLS LEAK MORE
A study of state inspection reports indicates that Pennsylvania's newer and unconventional wells leak at a far higher rate than older and traditional ones.
10. CLIPPERS SALE HINGES ON LEGALITIES
The $2 billion sale of the NBA team will depend on technicalities of family trust law and whether Donald Sterling's estranged wife had the right to unilaterally negotiate a deal.
BOY'S DEATH DRAWS ATTENTION TO IMMIGRATION PERILS
 When authorities found an 11-year-old Guatemalan boy's body about a mile from Texas' southern border, they also discovered his brother's Chicago phone number scribbled on the inside of his belt buckle.
The boy, wearing "Angry Birds" jeans, black leather boots and a white rosary around his neck, had apparently gotten lost on his way north from his native country and was found about two weeks ago, alone in the brush less than a mile from the nearest U.S. home, a South Texas sheriff said Monday.
While hundreds of immigrants die crossing the border each year, the discovery of Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez's decomposed body in the Rio Grande Valley on June 15 highlights the perils unaccompanied children face as the U.S. government searches for ways to deal with record numbers of children crossing into the country illegally.
"Down here finding a decomposed body ... we come across them quite often," Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra said, adding that this was the first child immigrant his office has found since he became sheriff in April. "It's a very dangerous journey."
More than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended entering the U.S. illegally since October, creating what President Barack Obama has called an "urgent humanitarian situation." On Monday, Obama asked Congress for more money and additional authority to deal with the surge of youths, mostly from Central America. Obama wants flexibility to speed the youths' deportations and $2 billion to hire more immigration judges and open more detention facilities.
The number of unaccompanied immigrant children picked up along the border has been rising for three years as they fled pervasive gang violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. More recently, children and parents have said they heard children traveling alone and parents traveling with young kids would be released by authorities and allowed to continue to their destination.
Many of the children turn themselves in to the first law enforcement person they see, so Guerra said it was unusual to find a child in this more remote area - near La Joya, about 20 miles west of McAllen. Sometimes smugglers, known as coyotes, leave people behind if they can't go on; other times a group may scatter when authorities approach.
Investigators were able to reach the boy's brother in Chicago; his phone number was one of three on the boy's belt. It's not uncommon for immigrants to put relatives' phone numbers on their clothing because scraps of paper can get lost or wet during their journey.
The boy's brother gave authorities his father's phone number in Guatemala, and the dad identified the boy's personal items.
The cause of death has not been determined, but authorities suspect heat stroke, Guerra said. The boy was no longer wearing a shirt when he was found. An autopsy did not find signs of trauma and the pathologist estimated the body had been there for about two weeks.
The boy's family in Huehuetenango, Chiantla, Guatemala, had last heard from him about 25 days before his body was found. At that time, he was in Reynosa, Mexico, waiting to cross the border. His father told authorities the boy was traveling with a coyote.
Although the number of immigrant children who have died crossing into Texas was not immediately available, such discoveries are not unheard of.
About 445 immigrants died along the U.S.-Mexico border last year, according to the Border Patrol. The Pima County medical examiner in Arizona, which is the perennial leader in immigrant deaths, recorded 168 of the deaths; of the 70 where an age was confirmed, none were younger than 13.
Immigrant deaths in the brush in Hidalgo County occur from time to time, but more common are drownings in the Rio Grande. Brooks County to the north has more immigrant deaths in its vast unpopulated ranches.
Dr. Lori Baker, an anthropologist at Baylor University, has spent years exhuming immigrant graves along the border and trying to identify them. Earlier this month, she spent two weeks exhuming 52 graves at a cemetery in Falfurrias, the Brooks County seat. She made a similar excavation last year. Baker recalled exhuming an infant, a 2-year-old, a 6-year-old and a pre-teen.
Baker said children's bones are small, so they aren't easily seen in the brush.
"There are going to be many more if we can find their tiny bodies."



THE SPACE SHUTTLE AND THE ROMAN HORSE

technology today is more connected to the past than we imagine ... The U.S. space shuttle uses two tanks for solid fuel, manufactured in the state of Utah. The design engineers wanted to make them wider, but had the limitation of the tunnels where the railroads would be transported to the launch site. These tunnels have their widths based on the gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet 8.5 inches.

Why this seemingly preposterous number? Because that was the width of the gauge of British railways, and how it was the British who built the first American railroads, this was the measure used. But by that measure? Why British companies who built the cars were the same who built the wagons before the railroads, leveraging the same tools and equipment.

And by that measure 4 feet and 8.5 inches for the wagons? Because the distance between the wheels should allow the movement of wagons in the old roads of Europe that had this measure. And why the roads were this far? Why were opened during the Roman Empire, and the Romans took as a basis the width of chariots. And why the measures were well defined? Because the chariots were made to accommodate two coupled horses.

Ie: the world's most advanced engineering in design and technology example still depends primarily on the size of the Roman horse's ass ...

PS-I do not know if all this exercise in logic is true, but it was so told me the story and I found 'interesting

Nancy Pelosi visits border and says immigration reform unlikely


House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said on Saturday she saw little hope for comprehensive immigration reform this year.
Following a visit to a Border Patrol facility in Brownsville where unaccompanied children are being held, the California Democrat said she was more optimistic a few days ago. She also said the Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner, gives little reason to be hopeful now, but did not elaborate.
"A few days ago I would have been more optimistic about comprehensive immigration reform," Pelosi said. "I thought that we had been finding a way because we have been very patient and respectful of [Speaker Boehner] trying to do it one way or another.
“I don't think he gives us much reason to be hopeful now, but we never give up. There's still the month of July."
More than 52,000 unaccompanied children, most from Central America, have been apprehended entering the US illegally since October. It has created what President Barack Obama called an “urgent humanitarian situation”.
Immigration reform represents one of the Obama administration's last best chances for a major domestic policy achievement in the final two years of the president's term, and many Republicans eager to woo Hispanic voters back the idea. But while the Senate passed a sweeping bipartisan immigration bill last year, legislation never got off the ground in the Republican-controlled House.
The Senate bill offers eventual citizenship to many of the 11.5 million people in the US illegally, billions of dollars to beef up border security, and a remaking the legal immigration system to allow more workers into the country legally. House Republican leaders said repeatedly that they wanted to get it done, but opposition from a small but vocal group seemed to derail every attempt.
The border patrol in south Texas has been overwhelmed for several months by an influx of unaccompanied children and parents traveling with young children from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Unlike Mexican immigrants arrested after entering the US illegally, those from Central America cannot be as easily returned to their countries.
The US had only one family detention centre in Pennsylvania, so most adults traveling with young children were released and told to check in with the local immigration office when they arrived at their destination. A new facility for families is being prepared in New Mexico.
Children who traveled alone, like those visited by Pelosi in Brownsville, are handled differently. By law, they must be transferred to the custody of the Health and Human Services Department within 72 hours of their arrest. From there, they are sent into a network of shelters until they can be reunited with family members while awaiting their day in immigration court.
On Saturday, Dallas County judge Clay Jenkins said up to 2,000 unaccompanied immigrant children could be transferred from overcrowded facilities in McAllen to his county by the end of next month. He said the plan was to have youngsters spend about three weeks in Dallas County before hopefully being placed with relatives who are elsewhere in the US. The federal government will cover the costs, Jenkins said.
"This is not a commentary on the immigration debate," Jenkins said on the sidelines of the Texas Democratic convention in Dallas. "This is about scared and lonely children who are trapped in not good conditions on the border, and what we can do in this county to be a part of the solution."
Republicans have criticized Obama's immigration policies, arguing that they have left the impression that women and children from Central America will be allowed to stay in the US. The administration has worked to send a clear message in recent weeks that new arrivals will be targeted for deportation. But immigrants arriving from those countries say they are fleeing pervasive gang violence and crushing poverty.
Pelosi said Congress needed to put politics aside in addressing the child immigrants, and added: "The fact is these are children, children and families. We have a moral responsibility to address this in a dignified way."
She said: "We have to take it on a case-by-case basis. We don't want our good nature abused by those who would misrepresent what's happening in the United States on the subject of immigration to affect how we deal with a refugee problem."

White House will ask Congress for new powers to tackle immigration surge

• Official tells Guardian White House wants faster deportations
• Request seeks to overcome Bush-era protocols for minors

migrant undocumented migrant children us immigration

More than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended on the border since October. Photograph: Stringer/Reuters
The White House is preparing an emergency request to Congress for additional powers to enable the fast-track deportation of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America who are crossing the US border illegally, a move that could bypass protections introduced by the the Bush administration.
President Barack Obama has called the surge of minors pouring across Mexico border and into the Rio Grande Valley a “humanitarian crisis” and has ordered officials to open emergency shelters on military bases and increase the number of border agents.
But in a significant toughening of the president's stance, to be announced formally on Monday, the administration will request the authority to immediately repatriate children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – the Central American countries from which most of the child migrants are travelling 
A White House official told the Guardian the administration is planning to ask Congress to provide the department of homeland security with “additional authority to exercise discretion” in dealing with children from those countries. The request has been drafted in a letter to Congress that will be sent on Monday, the official said.
More than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended on the border since October. Administration officials have been particularly alarmed by the increase in children, many of them girls, under the age of 13. Border officials have reported finding some children as young as four or five or travelling alone.
However, the the administration has been hampered by anti-trafficking laws passed under George W Bush, which set out strict protocols for handling unaccompanied minors, which in turn delay the deportation process.
Unlike migrants from Mexico and Canada, children from countries that do not have a direct border with the US, such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, must first be screened by a US border control agent, who cannot hold them for more than 72 hours before they are transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
immigrant children
The White House will also ask Congress on Monday to increase penalties for people smugglers who target children . Photograph: Eric Gay/AP
The DHHS is required to “act in the best interest of the child”, which often means transferring the child into foster care or, more commonly, the custody of a family member or relative in the US. Estimates for the percentage of Central American unaccompanied migrants (not including Mexicans) who are united with US-based sponsors range from 65% to 90%.
Even then, such migrants are still in the removal process, and need to have their case heard by a judge, who has the discretion to deport them. The Obama administration is desperately trying to counter the perception that unaccompanied children who arrive in the US are guaranteed the opportunity to remain in the country.
The White House official said the letter to Congress would request “added flexibility” to deal with child migrants who, under current laws, cannot be immediately returned across the border. The change of rules the administration is seeking would effectively allow the secretary for homeland security, Jeh Johnson, to order that children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador be treated the same as Mexicans, who are often sent back across the border soon after being detained.
The Guardian understands the children would still be screened for humanitarian claims. The administration also hopes to invest in repatriation centres in the children's countries of origin, in order to smooth the process.
The White House will also ask Congress on Monday to increase penalties for people smugglers who target children and for additional resources to cope with the cost of sheltering thousands of children – as well as single-mothers with children, who have also been streaming across the border.
migrant texas detention center temporary shelter undocumented mgirant children
The Sacred Heart Catholic Church temporary migrant shelter in McAllen, Texas. Photograph: Stringer/Reuters
The additional funds being requested will be used to pay for more immigration judges, expanded detention facilities, where the children are housed and fed, and for an “aggressive deterrence strategy” in the Central American countries from which the migrants come. The White House official said the total sum being requested was “likely to be more than $2bn”, a figure first reported in the New York Times.
The child migrant crisis has become a major priority over the last month for the White House, not least because it has significant political repercussions for a president whose second-term ambition – passing comprehensive immigration reform – appears doomed.
Even prior to the current crisis, Republicans opponents of immigration reform in the House of Representatives argued Obama’s failure to robustly enforce immigration rules had served as a magnet for illegal immigrants and broken the trust required for bipartisan legislation. Immigrant rights groups, on the other hand, have labeled the president "deporter in chief”, for forcefully removing two million immigrants since coming to office in 2008 – more than any other president to date.
Republicans have been demanding tougher action against illegal immigrants before undertaking any reform and have seized on the child migrant crisis as evidence of a systemic failure in border control.
The chairman of the House judiciary committee, Bob Goodlatte, said on Thursday that if the Obama administration was serious about immigration enforcement, “they would not simply call the matter at the border today a humanitarian crisis, but would acknowledge that this is a serious national security issue, law enforcement issue, respect-for-the-rule of law issue.”
Ana Garcia de Hernandez
Ana Garcia de Hernandez, first lady of Honduras, speaks to the media about the immigration influx in the Rio Grande Valley along with US representative Henry Cuellar. Photograph: Joel Martinez/AP
There has been an increase in child migrants fleeing Central America for the US since at least 2009, but in recent months the numbers being detained at the border has spiked dramatically.
The US border patrol was used to detaining around 7,000 child migrants on the south-west border each year. Since October, at least 52,100 have been caught crossing the border; that number is expected to surpass 60,000 before the end of September. Most have come through the Rio Grande area, on the southernmost tip of Texas, which has seen a 178% increase on last year’s tally of children migrants.
This month, the Obama administration has begun focusing efforts in Central America to dissuade more families from sending their children on such perilous journeys. Earlier this month the White House announced a $250m package directed at the region, including funds for reintegrating returned migrants and tackling gang violence, an endemic problem considered to be behind many families' deciding that their children should leave.
Vice-president Joe Biden traveled to Guatemala to convene an urgent meeting attended by leaders from El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico. Secretary of state John Kerry will meet with representatives of all four countries on Tuesday, in Panama.

Thirty bodies found on migrant boat off the coast of Sicily, reports say

Asphyxiation blamed for deaths on board vessel carrying 600 people in the worst discovery of its kind by Italian authorities

A lifeboat from the Italian frigate Grecale carries a group of migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea en routeto the port at Pozzallo, on the southern tip of Sicily.
A lifeboat from the Italian frigate Grecale carries a group of migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea en routeto the port at Pozzallo, on the southern tip of Sicily. Photograph: Italian Navy/AP
About 30 bodies have been found in a migrant boat which was stopped between Sicily and the North African coast, Italian news agencies reported on Monday, citing the navy and coastguard.
The rescuers made the gruesome discovery when they boarded a fishing boat carrying around 590 refugees and migrants, including two pregnant women.
The immigrants apparently died of asphyxiation, the news agencies said. It is not the first time Italian rescuers have found migrants dead on the overcrowded boats but never before were there such a large number.
A motorboat of the Italian Navy approaches the boat of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday 29 June
A motorboat of the Italian Navy approaches the boat of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday 29 June. Photograph: Italian Navy/AP
The boat is being towed by the Italian navy and is expected to arrive in Pozzallo on the southeast coast of Sicily later onMonday.
Over the past weekend more than 1,600 migrants were rescued by Italian authorities, bringing the total number of migrants so far this year to above 60,000.
The number is expected to soar past the record 63,000 set in 2011 during the Arab Spring uprisings.
Italy has long borne the brunt of migrants making the perilous crossing from North Africa to Europe, but EU border agency Frontex says there has been a significant rise in numbers in recent months.
The last few weeks have seen a series of tragedies, with ten people drowning and 39 having to be rescued after their boat sank off the Libyan coast earlier in June.
Italian interior minister Angelino Alfano has called for the rescue operation to become a European initiative amid reports of thousands of migrants waiting in Libya to make the trip during the next few weeks.

World Cup: I dived but penalty was real, says Arjen Robben

Arjen Robben

Arjen Robben courted further controversy at the World Cup by insisting he was fouled for the penalty that led to Holland's last-gasp 2-1 win over Mexico, but apologised for diving earlier in the match.
The winger was accused by the Mexico coach, Miguel Herrera, of committing three dives during the match in Fortaleza that saw Holland go through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
However Robben said in quotes attributed to Dutch television channel NOS: "The one at the end was a penalty, I was fouled. At the same time I have to apologise in the first half I took a dive and I really shouldn't do that. That was a stupid, stupid thing to do but sometimes you're expecting to be struck and then they pull their leg away at the last minute."
Herrera said the Portuguese referee, Pedro Proenca, should have taken action against the Bayern Munich winger, who went down under a challenge by Mexico’s captain, Rafael Marquez, in injury time. "Robben did three dives and he should have been cautioned,” said Herrera. “You should caution a guy who is trying to cheat and then if Robben did it again he would be sent off."
Holland won thanks to Klaas Jan Huntelaar's extra-time penalty, after Wesley Sneijder's 88th-minute volley had equalised Giovani Dos Santos' goal. Herrera claimed Mexico had been victims of bad refereeing in their group matches against Cameroon and Croatia as well.
"Out of the four matches here, in all of them the refereeing was disastrous,” he said. “Robben did three dives and he should have been cautioned. You should caution a guy who is trying to cheat, and then if Robben did it again he would be sent off. And why did Fifa choose a referee from the same confederation as Holland instead of one from South America, Asia or Africa?
"The doubtful decisions were always against us. We have to say it in capital letters, in three matches we had horrible refereeing. The man with the whistle knocked us. I want the referee committee to take a look and that the referee goes home just like us."
Herrera also attacked organisers for making the teams play in the heat and humidity of a 1pm kick-off in Fortaleza. "What goes against football is to have to play in these conditions,” he said. “The players were suffocated by the sun, heat and the humidity." 
Holland’s manager, Louis van Gaal, admitted he used Fifa's new official cooling breaks – allowed during certain temperatures or humidity levels – to instruct his players on a change of tactics: "I moved to a 'plan B' and yes I did that in the cooling break but that's a clever way of benefiting from these breaks." 

World Cup 2014 talking points: Louis van Gaal makes most of water break

Holland used time-out to end impressive Mexico’s tournament while Greece struggled without their underdog tag
Netherlands Louis van Gaal (R) speaks to

Water breaks welcomed by Van Gaal

So that’s why Louis van Gaal was so keen on water breaks. This was not just a chance to hydrate his players; it was a chance to instruct them too. The theory said that the climate would count against the Dutch more than the Mexicans, but Holland took advantage in one, very significant way. Van Gaal enjoyed talking through his tactical switches after the game, from wing backs to three up front and then a more direct style with two forwards. He also praised his players’ ability to adapt intelligently. It had helped that he could talk them through the change.
“We had more of the ball after the first tactical change but no goals. And then it was during the cooling break that I started with the plan B,” Van Gaal explained. “I knew we would have a cooling break and by the way, we worked on this. I could talk to them about this [then].”
Asked if he thought it somehow went against football to use a time-out for tactics, Mexico’s manager Miguel Herrera replied: “What goes against football is playing in this kind of climate. Neither team can give a worthy spectacle and you could see it in Holland, in the way that their rhythm and pace dropped in this temperature. You cannot play at the right level for 90 minutes.” Sid Lowe

Mexico make impression before exit

When Mexico lost on penalties to Bulgaria in the round of 16 at the 1994 World Cup in the USA, surely they could never have imagined that history would repeat itself and repeat itself. When Klaas-Jan Huntelaar wrecked a promising Mexican adventure inspired by the charismatic Miguel Herrera, it confirmed yet another exit at exactly the same hurdle where El Tri always seem to tumble.
It is difficult to establish how they will buck this trend, having been afflicted at six successive World Cups at this point. Mexico played with verve and confidence throughout their stay in Brazil and gave the tournament some memorable high points. Guillermo Ochoa has two contenders for save of the tournament and it seems absurd he is a free agent after leaving Ajaccio in France. The coach, Herrera, was a marvel to behold. The lowest paid manager at the World Cup has done outstanding work to forge a team that performed so creditably considering they were a mess when he took over. His efforts, and his now familiar goal dance – like an eccentric uncle doing a John Travolta impression with uncontainable relish – at least mean they made a big impression before the usual departure. Amy Lawrence

Ochoa on song again

It has been a great tournament for goalkeepers. Guillermo Ochoa could not quite do enough to keep Mexico in the competition in the early game on Sunday, but Keylar Navas was the crucial man in Costa Rica’s progression into the last eight. A stunning save from Dimitris Salpingidis from the only clear-cut chance of the first half was just the start. Two minutes after Greece’s injury-time equaliser, he did superbly to claw away Kostas Mitroglou’s goalbound header and then in the 122nd minute his hip was in the right place as the Fulham striker almost pinched the win at the death. He saved (ahem) the best until last, though, producing a fantastic reflex stop to claw away Theo Gekas’s penalty for Greece. Holland will be rightful favourites in the quarter-final, but they will have to get past perhaps the best goalkeeper of the tournament. John Ashdown

Greece flail without underdog tag

Greece got what they deserved. Nothing. Fernando Santos was right when he said they were too frantic in extra-time. The match was there to be won, with half an hour to play against 10 men there should have been no need for penalties, but Greece were too rushed to make their numerical supremacy count.
Surprisingly Giorgios Karagounis, their experienced captain, was one of the worst offenders. He kept demanding the ball in extra-time, and usually got it because of his seniority, only to use it to attempt a series of over-optimistic shots from distance. You might have thought he would be an influence for calm, holding the ball and waiting for support to arrive so that Costa Rica would eventually be outnumbered, but no, his only idea was to go for glory. Konstantinos Mitroglou at least showed tantalising glimpses of what he might be capable of, even if he could not beat Keylor Navas, Costa Rica’s impressive goalkeeper.
It is probably true that without Navas the result would have been different, as both coaches suggested, though that summary excuses some pretty iffy Greek finishing. Samaras, Salpingidis and Mitroglou all had good chances but failed to be sufficiently clinical.
Few neutrals will have minded Greece going out, Costa Rica make a better story and people are growing tired of the way Greece just survive in tournaments without doing anything of note, but one positive thing about them is they way they revel in the role of underdogs and save their best performances for the situations when they appear to have little chance. Give them every chance, the spur of a last-gasp equaliser to earn an extra half hour against a short-handed side, and the magic no longer seems to work. Paul Wilson

It was a penalty

Arjen Robben may have dived or, at the very least, embellished his fall but that does not mean it was not a penalty. Replays of the injury-time incident clearly show Rafael Márquez stabbing his foot down on the Dutch attacker’s left boot after the ball has gone with the result that Robben was robbed of possession and his forward momentum. On any other part of the pitch this type of incident would be considered a foul and since it is in the area, it is a penalty. Pretty simple really. There have been plenty of spot kicks given away in this World Cup that are worth frothing at the mouth over – see Brazil in the opening game or Australia against Holland for further details – but this is certainly not one of them.Ian McCourt

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