Wonkbook: The facts on the Malaysia Airlines disaster

July 18

Welcome to Wonkbook, Wonkblog’s morning policy news primer by Puneet Kollipara (@pkollipara). To subscribe by e-mail, click here. Send comments, criticism or ideas to Wonkbook at Washpost dot com. To read more by the Wonkblog team, click here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


(Photo by Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters)

Wonkbook’s Number of the Day: More than 1 million. That's the number of comments that the public has filed to the FCC about its net-neutrality proposal.

Wonkbook’s Chart of the Day: A real-time picture of how flights are now avoiding Ukrainian airspace.

Wonkbook's Top 4 Stories: (1) The Malaysia Airlines disaster; (2) what's wrong with labor markets?; (3) women's health and Obamacare legal roundup; (4) so many border bills, so little action.

1. Top story: What we know so far about the Malaysia Airlines plane disaster, and what it means

The latest from the ground. "Separatist rebels who control the area where the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was brought down said they had recovered most of its black boxes and were considering what to do with them. Their statement had profound implications for the integrity of the plane crash investigation. U.S. intelligence authorities said a surface-to-air missile downed the plane, but could not say who fired it. Ukraine, whose investigators have no access to the area, has called for an international probe to determine who attacked the plane and insisted it was not its military." Yuras Karmanau and Dmitry Lovetsky in the Associated Press.

Explainer: Airliners that have been shot down. Associated Press.

When airliners get shot down, facts get skewed quickly. "The suspected shootdown of a Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine on Thursday brought quick denials from two camps: pro-Russian separatists said they had nothing to do with it, and so did the Ukrainian government. That’s hardly a surprise. Rather, it simply reinforces the basic playbook that has been used when other commercial airliners have been shot down by military forces over the last three decades. Those involved in other high-profile incidents have covered up key details, only for the truth to emerge later when the immediate pressure of the moment had subsided." Dan Lamothe in The Washington Post.

For the latest: Check out our live blog of the latest developments.

Audio: "We just shot down a plane" — intercepted audio allegedly of Ukraine separatists. The New York Times.

The plane was on a route that Qantas had stopped flying months ago. "The attack, blamed on pro-Russia separatists by the Ukraine government, killed everyone on board the Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight, prompting the airline to take alternative routes for its European flights. The disaster comes four months after Malaysian Flight 370 bound for Beijing disappeared without a trace. Qantas hasn’t been using that route for a few months, said Andrew McGinnes, a spokesman for the Australian carrier, while Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. (293) said it hasn’t been flying over the area for 'quite some time.' Singapore Airlines Ltd. said it’s 'no longer using Ukrainian airspace.'" Kyunghee Park in Bloomberg.

Chart: At the same time, the plane was on the same route it always travels. "The story is developing and moving fast, but data from airline data firm FlightAware shows that particular flight - Malaysian Flight 17 - runs daily and always goes through Ukranian airspace. In other words, today's flight does not appear to have deviated from the paths of previous flights in any significant way." Christopher Ingraham in The Washington Post.

In the world’s interconnected airspace, flights over conflict zones are common. "Since April, the Federal Aviation Administration had banned U.S. carriers from flying over Crimea and the Black Sea (due to potential miscommunication between Ukrainian and Russian air traffic officials and 'related potential misidentification of civil aircraft'). But that no-fly zone did not include the mainland part of Ukraine where the Malaysian flight appeared to go down — and where the airline had flown regularly, once a day, in recent weeks....Had the Malaysian flight continued, it would have traveled over Iran and Afghanistan, based on its path on previous days." Emily Badger in The Washington Post.

Those flights won't be that common over East Ukraine anymore. "The Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice on Thursday night prohibiting any U.S. flight operations in the airspace over eastern Ukraine until further notice. This restriction, which was issued in response to the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet, expands an earlier FAA order prohibiting U.S. flights from operating over certain areas in Ukraine." Mark Berman in The Washington Post.

Chart: A real-time picture of how flights are now avoiding Ukrainian airspace. Christopher Ingraham in The Washington Post.

Malaysia Airlines: Maybe not at fault, but it could suffer again. "The pilot seems to have followed protocol. The plane was flying over unrestricted airspace...and cruising more than 30,000 feet above Ukrainian land that was regularly being traversed not only by other Malaysia Airlines planes, but also by those of several other carriers...And yet, rather cruelly, it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Malaysia Airlines doesn’t suffer mightily. The carrier acknowledged publicly that it saw 'a major short-term reaction in consumer behavior' and 'observed high cancellation of existing bookings and reduction in long-haul bookings in favor of short-haul bookings' after Flight MH370’s disappearance. And some airline industry analysts worried that a similar reaction may follow Thursday’s crash." Roberto Ferdman and Joel Achenbach in The Washington Post.

Jet crash insurance may pose quandary. "Insurance on the Malaysian airliner brought down over Ukraine on Thursday is likely to pay out relatively quickly, provided that the cause of the crash is firmly determined, but observers say insurance for the loss of 295 lives and other liability will likely be complex and lengthy. Investigators will try to determine whether plane actually was hit by a missile or blew up of its own accord, and that should be fairly easy, said Robert Cohn, an aviation attorney and partner at Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C. 'Then the interesting issue is who do you go after as the malefactors?' he said. "Are you going to sue a rebel?'" Alwyn Scott in Reuters.

Charts: How the disaster tanked American airline stocks. Vox.

The crash is also casting a cloud over an AIDS meeting in Melbourne. "Dutch doctor Joep Lange, a World Health Organization spokesman and at least four others heading to an AIDS meeting in Melbourne were among 298 Malaysia Airlines passengers and crew killed on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Many passengers on board Flight 17, which crashed over Ukraine, were en route to the 20th International AIDS Conference, said Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, the meeting’s co-chair." Jason Gale and Jason Scott in Bloomberg.

Who should investigate the disaster? It's not so straightforward. "A global air safety group says an international coalition of countries should lead the investigation of a Malaysia plane shot down over Ukraine. Normally the country where a crash occurs takes the lead on an investigation. Safety experts say they're concerned that because the plane crashed in area of Ukraine that is in dispute, political considerations could affect the investigation." Joan Lowy in the Associated Press.

Explainer: The deadliest air disasters in world history. Allison Gray in USA TODAY.

Will this serve as a game-changer in the Ukraine crisis? "While the cable channels were exploding in speculation...the most cautious public reactions came from President Obama and Speaker John Boehner. Both were low-key....The caution was for good reason. Almost always in such incidents, the immediate certainties prove wrong....But even as the world waits for those answers, it is not too early to conclude that the potential impact on the war over Ukraine is great. Already, backers of the Kiev government believe the incident has placed Russian President Vladimir Putin on the defensive and brought home the reality that the separatists are fighting with weapons given them by Russia." George E. Condon Jr. in National Journal.

Keep an eye on this: The U.N. Security Council was set to hold an emergency meeting this morning about the disaster. Edith M. Lederer in the Associated Press.

The context on Putin's Russia. "What’s far more certain is that Vladimir Putin, acting out of resentment and fury toward the West and the leaders in Kiev, has fanned a kind of prolonged political frenzy, both in Russia and among his confederates in Ukraine, that serves his immediate political needs but that he can no longer easily calibrate and control....The tactically clever and deeply cynical maneuvers of propaganda and military improvisation that have taken him this far, one of his former advisers told me in Moscow earlier this month, are bound to risk unanticipated disasters. Western economic and political sanctions may be the least of it." David Remnick in The New Yorker.

Lawmakers urge tougher sanctions if Russia found to have role. "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called the air disaster a 'game changer.' He and other defense hawks said that if Russians are involved, the international community should impose tougher sanctions and arm the Ukrainian military....Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, emerged from a closed briefing with no new information on whether Russia was involved or Americans were on the plane." Michael A. Memoli and Lisa Mascaro in the Los Angeles Times.

Previously, the idea of tougher sanctions got major pushback. "Until now, the desire of some members of the Obama administration for more aggressive multilateral action against Putin has been stymied by the reluctance of European governments, particularly Germany, to antagonize Russia. Business interests in the U.S. have also claimed that American companies could be hurt if they lose access to the Russian market. In the aftermath of the Malaysia Airlines disaster, which almost certainly claimed dozens of American and European lives, such voices will be drowned out by demands from the public that Russia be punished for supplying the weapons that may have brought the airliner down." Romesh Ratnesar in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Other foreign policy reads:

U.S. Senate votes to extend terrorism insurance backstop. Emily Stephenson in Reuters.

IGNATIUS: Tougher sanctions could make things chilly in Europe. "Energy politics underlie the explosive Ukraine crisis....The dilemma for European governments increased this week as the Obama administration announced strong new penalties against the Russian energy and financial sectors. Europe’s initial response was tepid, in a sign that many of its governments fear Moscow’s energy leverage more than U.S. displeasure....Russia’s dominance as an energy supplier to Europe is its economic trump card in this fight, at least in the short run. European governments may be willing to squeeze Moscow but not so tightly that they risk a severe shortage of gas supplies." David Ignatius in The Washington Post.

EL-ERIAN: Sanctions could get worse than markets realize. "The market reaction to repeated sanctions against Russia has tended to follow a pattern, with investors shrugging off the news after an initial sell-off. Still, the cumulative impact of sanctions is getting harder to ignore, and — particularly given the reports of the downing of a passenger plane in Ukrainian airspace — it could yet get much worse....In shrugging off sanctions, investors should be aware that there is little on the geopolitical horizon to suggest a lasting reduction in tensions, let alone a rebuilding of mutual trust. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that politicians will take the conflict over Ukraine to the tipping point." Mohamed A. El-Erian in Bloomberg View.

Top opinion

KRUGMAN: Addicted to inflation. "The first step toward recovery is admitting that you have a problem. That goes for political movements as well as individuals. So I have some advice for so-called reform conservatives trying to rebuild the intellectual vitality of the right: You need to start by facing up to the fact that your movement is in the grip of some uncontrollable urges. In particular, it’s addicted to inflation — not the thing itself, but the claim that runaway inflation is either happening or about to happen....The right’s obsessive focus on a problem we don’t have, its refusal to reconsider its premises despite overwhelming practical failure, tells you that we aren’t actually having any kind of rational debate. And that, in turn, bodes ill not just for would-be reformers, but for the nation." Paul Krugman in The New York Times.

SALAM: Immigration and stinginess. "In Australia, Canada, and Switzerland, immigration tends to leave high-skilled native-born individuals slightly worse off, thus dampening inequality at the margin, yet the children of immigrants are far less likely to live in poverty and they are far more likely to enter the economic mainstream. My view is straightforward: there is a strong case for an immigration policy that is more selective about who gets in while also being more generous to those we allow in the country. Given the large supply of skilled workers eager to settle in the United States, this view is compatible with a high level of immigration. " Reihan Salam in National Review.

GLECKMAN: The great tax-inversion death spiral. "Inversions are not the real problem. They are rather a symptom of the problem, which is that U.S. rates are higher than those in many other countries. Obama and many in Congress would like to treat the disease by lowering U.S. rates and restructuring the tax treatment of U.S. based multinationals. That’s sensible. But the more high-tax firms legally decamp, the harder reform will become. Thus, the inversion rush is driving a tax policy death spiral, discouraging the very reforms that could make it unnecessary for firms to shift their headquarters overseas. If Congress doesn’t act soon on fundamental reform, the entire exercise may be largely irrelevant." Howard Gleckman in Forbes.

PONNURU: Stop paying attention to the inflation cranks. "People who think inflation is much higher than officially estimated generally argue that the Federal Reserve is hurting American consumers by raising the prices of food, gas and other necessities....It's certainly true that a looser monetary policy raises those prices and a tighter one would bring them down. But these policies would have the same effect on the price of labor. It's the ratio of goods and prices to wages that matters for living standards. There's no reason to think that the Fed's policies are doing anything to increase the percentage of household budgets spent on food. If we want to bring down the price of food relative to wages, we'd be better off looking at our agricultural policies than at our monetary policy." Ramesh Ponnuru in Bloomberg View.

THOMPSON: What if health spending doesn't destroy America? "This isn't the end of healthcare spending projections and it's certainly not the closing bell on budget politics. Federal spending on Social Security and the major healthcare programs is still projected to double its historic share of the federal budget in a few decades. But the facts at the heart of the deficit hawks' doomsday case have changed dramatically in the blink of an eye. Scary budget projections call us to urgency without calling attention to the fact that their underlying assumptions could change fairly quickly. For now, the government should avoid spending too much of our present resources to avoid a future that might, in the Gilbertian sense, be much more easy to deal with than we imagine." Derek Thompson in The Atlantic.

Science interlude: Why is it hot underground?

2. What's up with labor markets?

Highlighted by jobless claims, economy gains traction despite weak housing. "The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, pointing to sustained momentum in the economy even as home building fell for a second straight month in June. The economy's improving fortunes were underscored by another report on Thursday showing manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region accelerated to its highest level in nearly 3-1/2 years this month. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 302,000....The four-weak average of claims, considered a better gauge of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, hit its lowest level in seven years." Lucia Mutikani in Reuters.

Why labor force keeps shrinking: Blame the boomers? "Since late 2007, the U.S. labor force has shrunk significantly, raising questions about where former workers have gone and why. Now the White House Council of Economic Advisers says it has found answers and has compiled them into a detailed research report released Thursday. As it turns out, most of the missing workers have been hiding in plain sight: They are retiring baby boomers....That age shift explains a lot about what's been happening with the labor force participants, defined as people who have jobs or want them." Marilyn Geewax in NPR.

Turns out that's not the whole story. "But the most interesting and alarming part of the report examines what White House economists call the 'residual' — the factors beyond aging and cyclicality that explain why people are disappearing from the labor force. This is what we should worry most about. It's these people who may never return to jobs. The report finds that about a third of the decline in participation is attributable to these disappearing workers. If their exit from the labor force proves permanent, the nation's economy could suffer for years, never achieving the growth and prosperity it once could. What's behind this residual is one of the big mysteries in economics today. As is why, according to the report, it only emerged in 2012." Zachary A. Goldfarb in The Washington Post.

Just whose job is it to train workers? "Companies complain that they can't find skilled hires, but they aren't doing much to impart those skills, economists and workforce experts say. U.S. companies have been cutting money for training programs for decades, expecting schools and workers to pick up the slack. Economists say that reluctance to develop workers in-house has made it hard for workers to launch or sustain careers, resulting in a stalemate in the labor market: Companies won't look at job candidates who lack a specific skill set, so openings go unfilled even as millions linger on the unemployment rolls." Lauren Weber in The Wall Street Journal.

Fed releases a new job-market index. "Once upon a time...it was almost always talking about the unemployment rate or the change in the number of jobs. But the world has grown more complicated, and Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen has pointed to a host of other labor-market measures. But these different indicators often point in different directions, which can make it hard to tell if the labor market is getting better or getting worse. So four Fed staff economists have come to the rescue with a new 'labor markets conditions index' that uses a statistical model to summarize monthly changes in 19 labor-market into a single handy gauge. The new index...makes its public debut in the Fed’s semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress." David Wessel in The Wall Street Journal.

Fed in beige book sees the economy heating up, including in labor markets. "Manufacturing, consumer spending, tourism were all seen as bright spots, while housing was mixed around the country. It was the second-straight 'beige book' survey...to report 'moderate' or 'modest" expansion in all districts....The labor market was a particular source of strength in the report, with some employers reporting they were having a hard time finding truck drivers as well as skilled construction workers....Tuesday and Wednesday, Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen referenced the job-market improvements. She defended keeping interest rates low but gave some hints to earlier-than-planned rate hikes if the labor market continues its quick improvement." Alan Zibel and Sarah Portlock in The Wall Street Journal.

Should Yellen be giving us stock picks? "Ms. Yellen specifically called out the valuations of leveraged loans...and high-yield 'junk' bonds...as potentially excessive....A written report accompanying Ms. Yellen’s testimony went further still, specifically pointing to 'substantially stretched' valuations of social media and biotechnology stocks....Should government officials be speaking up when they think markets have gotten prices wrong? At what point does the Fed chair go from being the nation’s economist-in-chief to the market strategist-in-chief? And are Ms. Yellen’s views something that investors should be listening to?...As Ms. Yellen may learn, the challenge of telling people when the prices are right is that you might just be wrong." Neil Irwin in The New York Times.

Fund managers on Yellen's valuation comments: Meh. "It was added confirmation that the five-year-old bull market is showing its age. The benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 stock index .SPX... is up 6.9 percent year to date, now trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of approximately 15.6, above the 20-year historic average and signaling that low-priced stocks are harder to come by. As a result, fund managers are holding fewer companies overall and making trades less frequently, according to a recent report by Nasdaq OMX Group. Yet while the Fed may be correct that some parts of the market are overheated, fund managers say that they are still finding pockets of attractively priced companies that undermine fears of a widespread bubble." David Randall in Reuters.

Yellen stands fast on Fed oversight bill opposition... "During a testy hearing...that focused on a bill that would require the Fed to publish a set of rules for raising and lowering interest rates...Ms. Yellen said such a rule would impair the Fed’s ability to manage the economy, even inhibiting its ability to respond to financial crises....Republicans criticized what they described as an alarmist response by Ms. Yellen and Democrats to a proposal that they said would do nothing more than modestly increase the Fed’s accountability by requiring greater transparency. They emphasized that the legislation did not specify a particular rule — it simply told the Fed to pick one." Binyamin Appelbaum in The New York Times.

...but the Senate doesn't listen on issue of legislating a community banker spot. "No specific expertise is mandated for any of the positions. Of the board’s current five members, three are economists and two are lawyers. The Senate, in a voice vote, attached the amendment to the Terrorist Risk Insurance Act, which it passed later Thursday. The Fed amendment was introduced by Sen. David Vitter (R., La.) and would require at least one member of the Fed board have community bank or community bank-supervision experience....Yellen said Tuesday she would welcome having a community banker on the Fed board but opposed the idea of legislation to require one." Pedro Nicolaci da Costa in The Wall Street Journal.

Other economic/financial reads:

Is it time to declare the death of emergency unemployment insurance? Sarah Mimms in National Journal.

Poll of economists: Fed seen likely to raise rates in 2nd quarter of 2015. Jason Lange in Reuters.

Short-term rental apartments see rising calls for regulation. Kevin Brass in The New York Times.

Big jump in number of millennials living with parents reported. Walter Hamilton in the Los Angeles Times.

How you know Ex-Im Bank renewal faces an uphill battle: House Republicans are now investigating it for corruption. Damian Paletta in The Wall Street Journal.

"Economic patriotism": Explaining the vague, finger-wagging, immortal phrase. Philip Bump in The Washington Post.

MIRHAYDARI: Yellen's choice — market bubbles or more jobs? "A decision must soon be made. Should Yellen and the Federal Open Market Committee lean against inflation and the risk of bubbles by raising short-term interest rates sooner than and more aggressively than expected in early 2015? Or should they wait for inflation to become a clear problem in the hopes of encouraging faster job creation and wage growth? The decision is complicated and the stakes couldn't be higher....There seems to be little agreement between the two sides....At the end of the day, the truth will only be known in retrospect." Anthony Mirhaydari in The Fiscal Times.

Animal rescue interlude: Diver frees sea turtle caught in a line and gets a surprising thank you.

3. The recent legal battles over women's health and Obamacare

Health plans must disclose changes to contraceptive coverage. "The Obama administration said Thursday that employers that stop covering contraceptives in workers' health plans under a Supreme Court ruling must disclose the change to beneficiaries....The administration's notice Thursday made clear that if all or a subset of contraceptive services aren't covered under a group health plan, beneficiaries must be informed of the extent of the exclusions....The Obama administration has yet to release regulations outlining an alternative method for workers at such companies to obtain contraceptive coverage." Stephanie Armour in The Wall Street Journal.

Hippie Hobby Lobby? Organic pioneer faces boycott over birth control. "The company, which started as a food co-op, is owned and run by Michael Potter, a practicing Catholic who similarly doesn’t want to provide birth control to his employees. In fact, Potter’s objections go farther than those that took the Hobby Lobby case all the way to the Supreme Court....Eden Foods filed a lawsuit last year, seeking exemption on religious grounds, and lost. Following the Supreme Court’s decision on June 30, Eden’s case is being reconsidered. The renewed legal push by Eden has prompted calls for a boycott of its products. An online petition has been signed by some 150,000 people amid vocal concern about carrying Eden products in some of the country’s most prominent food co-ops." Susan Berfield in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Both parties are politicking over Hobby Lobby by legislating. "Political observers said all along that Senate Democrats could not garner the Republican support needed to reach 60 votes. Instead, they had their eye on November elections....In 2012, Democrats hung onto some seats by painting Republicans as anti-women....Senate Republicans have announced their own post-Hobby Lobby bill to ensure employers could not block their employees from obtaining birth control. Republican Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Orrin Hatch of Utah said before Wednesday's vote that the Hobby Lobby ruling was about constitutional religious freedoms, not women's rights." Annika McGinnis and Emily Stephenson in Reuters.

The Senate's pushback on abortion restrictions. "Also unlikely to get to the president’s desk, at least this year, is the 'Women’s Health Protection Act,' which got a hearing before the Judiciary Committee....The bill, which was introduced last year, would outlaw most state and local abortion restrictions, including any that 'single out the provision of abortion services for restrictions that are more burdensome than those restrictions imposed on medically comparable procedures,' that do not 'advance women’s health or the safety of abortion services,' and that 'make abortion services more difficult to access.'" Julie Rovner in Kaiser Health News.

What happens if Boehner's lawsuit succeeds? "Legal experts are much more divided over the strength of the underlying case against the administration's delays. Even some allies of the Affordable Care Act say Republicans have a solid argument that the delays were illegal, while others fear the case could strip future presidents of basic powers. 'I think it would make government unworkable, said Simon Lazarus, senior counsel at the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center....Arguing that Obama didn't have the authority to delay the employer mandate would implicate a host of other delays, Lazarus said....But others aren't so sure." Sam Baker in National Journal.

We're still waiting on the Obamacare-subsidy case. "The key to this litigation is an awkward wording...which says the subsidies come 'through an Exchange established by the State...' If we relied only on a literal reading of these words in isolation, there would be no subsidies allowed by exchanges not established by individual states — meaning that millions of people who are insured in the federal exchanges in the 36 states that refused to establish their own state-run marketplaces would be stripped of eligibility for subsidies. This would be devastating for most of them....But the damage would go beyond these individuals....It would radically alter all individual insurance markets, changing the risk pool in ways that would destabilize them." Norm Ornstein in The Atlantic.

Other health care reads:

When Rhode Island accidentally legalized prostitution, rape decreased sharply. Max Ehrenfreund in The Washington Post.

Head scientist at CDC weighs cost of recent lab-safety breaches. Kara Manke in NPR.

Are hospitals responding to health reform that hasn't happened yet? John Tozzi in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Random acts of kindness interlude: Barbecue for the homeless.

4. As the 'border children' suffer and wait, Congress is still stuck

Congress may not pass a bill before summer recess. "House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) raised doubts Thursday that Congress will be able to fulfill President Obama’s funding request to address the influx of illegal migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border before lawmakers leave Washington for their summer recess in two weeks. His comments came amid a sharpening debate between Democrats and Republicans about whether economic conditions in Central America or U.S. immigration policy is more responsible for the increase in illegal border crossings in recent years. Several GOP lawmakers introduced more legislation Thursday in response to the crisis. Democrats quickly dismissed the GOP proposals as political posturing." Ed O'Keefe in The Washington Post.

So many bills, so little certainty. "A handful of bills have already been introduced, with more likely to come. There's one positive: The bills are largely similar to each other, or at least based on the same goals. But there's little time left to coalesce around a single proposal — particularly when most Democrats remain resistant to making changes to existing law, which Republicans demand in exchange for funding." Elise Foley in The Huffington Post.

A grim wait for migrants at a Border Patrol station. "The cells at the U.S. Border Patrol station were once again full, the air fetid with body odor. Women clutched babies in diapers, boys crowded the cell windows, and men were splayed shoulder to shoulder across the floors. That's an improvement compared with recent weeks. The station, which has become a frequent stop for politicians visiting the Rio Grande Valley to survey the ongoing U.S.-Mexico border crisis, drew criticism in recent months after photographs were leaked of overcrowded cells. But the still images go only so far in capturing the place — the institutional coldness, the monotony, the despair." Molly Hennessy-Fiske in the Los Angeles Times.

Long read: FT reporters speak to the immigrants and the Americans who are torn over their fate. The Financial Times.

HHS shepherds 'border children' through the system. "Once in HHS custody, the children are given medical and mental health examinations, screened for tuberculosis and provided with all needed vaccinations....Those with communicable diseases or exposure to them are placed in a facility with quarantine capabilities. Those with mental health problems are also placed in a special facility. The steady flow of Central American children has forced HHS to open three temporary shelters that collectively house about 3,000 youngsters....Most of the youngsters, however, are housed through a system of state-licensed, HHS-funded care providers across the country. These facilities provide a range of care options....They also provide classroom education, health care, socialization services, vocational training, mental health services and access to legal services." Tony Pugh in McClatchy Newspapers.

Is Vermont the solution? "It's perhaps unsurprising that the state would be willing to help. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) has been a vocal proponent of immigration reform — as has fellow Vermonter Sen. Bernie Sanders (I.). The fact that their constituency back in Vermont is a big part of that support is less well known; about 1,500 undocumented immigrants live in Vermont, many working on dairy farms. About 80 percent of Vermont's farm production is just milk. There used to be more cows in Vermont than people. Most of these migrant workers spend their day milking or shoveling manure." Jaime Fuller in The Washington Post.

Explainer: What 10 governors are saying about housing undocumented immigrant children in their states. Niraj Chokshi in The Washington Post.

Other immigration reads:

Many Obama critics have also not been to the border recently. Sebastian Payne in The Washington Post.

Drawing undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. Jake Grovum in Pew Stateline.

Prank interlude: Identical twins prank.

Wonkblog roundup

Wells Fargo to make changes to protect customers from overdraft fees. Danielle Douglas.

What happens when a cursed airline collides with a world of irrational consumers. Roberto A. Ferdman.

Coming soon: Storyline. Jim Tankersley.

The administration just took Obamacare away from the territories. Jason Millman.

Malaysia comes to terms with another crash, even as it is still searching for its missing jet. Joel Achenbach.

A real-time picture of how flights are now avoiding Ukrainian airspace. Christopher Ingraham.

When Rhode Island accidentally legalized prostitution, rape decreased sharply. Max Ehrenfreund.

In the world’s interconnected airspace, flights over conflict zones are common. Emily Badger.

Americans are abandoning their support for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Roberto A. Ferdman.

The Malaysian flight that crashed in Ukraine was on the same route it flew every day. Christopher Ingraham.

More evidence that we’re doing a better job taking care of senior citizens than young adults. Emily Badger.

Here are the best and worst times to take the train between New York and D.C. Christopher Ingraham.

The intellectual cesspool of the inflation truthers. Matt O'Brien.

The economy’s big mystery: Why workers are disappearing from the job market. Zachary A. Goldfarb.

Et Cetera

The growing consensus on fixing student loans. Karen Weise in Bloomberg Businessweek.

U.S. oil-export ban seen weakening, not dying. Lynn Doan in Bloomberg.

Public money, private dollars: Obama seeks infrastructure repair money. Michael D. Shear in The New York Times.

GM recalls some cars with faulty switches, deems some others as safe. Paul Lienert in Reuters.

Hill surveillance reform: Time is not on its side. Alex Byers in Politico.

FBI sting spotlights human trafficking. Zusha Elinson in The Wall Street Journal.

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail us.

Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams and Ryan McCarthy.

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UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=business, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
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