TIME Immigration

Obama Eyes Major Immigration Move

Barack Obama, Joe Biden
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, speaks about immigration reform on June 30, 2014, in the White House Rose GardenHouse Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP

The President may be preparing to provide temporary legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants

When President Obama issues executive orders on immigration in coming weeks, pro-reform activists are expecting something dramatic: temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for perhaps several million undocumented immigrants. If the activists are right, the sweeping move would upend a contentious policy fight and carry broad political consequences.

The activists met privately with the President and his aides June 30 at the White House, and say in that meeting Obama suggested he will act before the November midterm elections. They hope his decision will offer relief to a significant percentage of the estimated 11.7 million estimated undocumented immigrants in the U.S. “He seems resolute that he’s going to go big and go soon,” says Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-reform group America’s Voice.

Exactly what Obama plans to do is a closely held secret. But following the meeting with the activists, Obama declared his intention to use his executive authority to reform parts of a broken immigration system that has cleaved families and hobbled the economy. After being informed by Speaker John Boehner that the Republican-controlled House would not vote on a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration law this year, the President announced in a fiery speech that he was preparing “to do what Congress refuses to do, and fix as much of our immigration system as we can.”

Obama has been cautious about preempting Congress. But its failure to act has changed his thinking. The recent meeting “was really the first time we had heard from the administration that they are looking at” expanding a program to provide temporary relief from deportations and work authorization for undocumented immigrants, says Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.

The White House won’t comment on how many undocumented immigrants could be affected. “I don’t want to put a number on it,” says a senior White House official, who says Obama’s timeline to act before the mid-term elections remains in place.

Obama has a broad menu of options at his disposal, but there are two major sets of changes he can order. The first is to provide affirmative relief from deportation to one or more groups of people. Under this mechanism, individuals identified as “low-priority” threats can come forward to seek temporary protection from deportation and work authorization. In 2012, the administration created a program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), that allowed eligible young unauthorized immigrants to apply for a two-year reprieve from deportation and a work permit.

The most aggressive option in this category would be expanding deferred action to anyone who could have gained legal status under the bipartisan bill that passed the Senate in June 2013. According to a Congressional Budget Office analysis, the Senate bill would have covered up to 8 million undocumented immigrants. It is unlikely that Obama goes that far. But even more modest steps could provide relief to a population numbering in the seven figures. “You can get to big numbers very quickly,” says Marshall Fitz, director of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.

One plausible option would be to expand DACA to include some family members of those already eligible. Says a Congressional aide: “While there are several options to provide temporary deportation relief, we expect an expansion of the DACA program to other groups of individuals to be the most clear opportunity.”

It’s hard to pin down how many people this would cover; it would depend on how the administration crafts the order. But the numbers are substantial. According to the CBO, there are an estimated 4.7 million undocumented parents with a minor child living in the U.S., and 3.8 million whose children are citizens. Around 1.5 million undocumented immigrants are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful resident, but have been unable to gain legal status themselves.

Obama could also decide to grant protections for specific employment categories, such as the 1 million or so undocumented immigrants working in the agricultural sector, or to ease the visa restrictions hindering the recruitment of high-skilled foreign workers to Silicon Valley. Either move would please centrist and conservative business lobbies, who have joined with the left to press for comprehensive reform, and might help temper the blowback.

The second bucket of changes Obama is considering are more modest enforcement reforms. Jeh Johnson, Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security, is deep into a review of the administration’s enforcement practices, and it is likely Obama will order some changes to immigration enforcement priorities. But if these tweaks are the extent of the changes, it would be a blow to activists expecting more. “That’s crumbs off the table compared to the meal we’d be expecting,” says Sharry.

Until now, Obama has frustrated immigration-reform activists by insisting he has little latitude to fix a broken system on his own. To a large extent, he’s right. Any relief the President provides would be fleeting; it’s up to Congress to find a permanent solution by rewriting the law. Deferring deportations does not confer a green card. It only offers a temporary fix.

But legal experts say Obama does have the authority to take the kinds of executive action he is thought to be considering. “As a purely legal matter, the President does have wide discretion when it comes to immigration,” says Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration scholar at Cornell University Law School. “Just as DACA was within the purview of the president’s executive authority on immigration, so too would expanding DACA fall within the president’s inherent immigration authority.” According to a recent report by the Center for American Progress, categorical grants of affirmative relief to non-citizens have been made 21 times since 1976, by six different presidents.

Even if Obama is on firm footing from a legal standpoint, he would be wading into political quicksand. Republicans would assail him for extending mass “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants at a moment when the southern border faces an unresolved child-migration crisis. Immigration would become a signal topic in the fall elections, and given that Obama’s handling of the issue has slipped to just 31%, that wouldn’t necessarily favor the President’s party. It would likely damage vulnerable Democratic incumbents in red states, including several whose re-election could determine control of the Senate. And Congress’s incipient failure to reach an agreement on an emergency supplemental bill to address the border crisis muddies the waters even further.

At the same time, Obama will be pilloried by Republicans no matter what he does. Despite the short-term political consequences, in the long run a bold stroke could help cement the Democratic Party’s ties with the vital and fast-growing Hispanic voting bloc. And it would be a legacy for Obama, a cautious chief executive whose presidency has largely been shaped by events outside his control. In the case of immigration, he has the capacity to ease the pain felt by millions with the stroke of a pen.

“There are two ways this could go,” says Fitz of the Center for American Progress. Obama will be remembered as either “the deporter-in-chief, or the great emancipator. Those are the two potential legacies.”

With reporting by Alex Rogers and Zeke J. Miller/Washington

TIME Crime

Shooter Kills 1 at Pennsylvania Hospital

Hospital Shooting
Investigators work the scene of a shooting Thursday, July 24, at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pa. AP

The suspect is in custody and injured.

A shooter opened fire in the psychiatric unit of Mercy-Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pennsylvania on Thursday, killing one female employee and injuring a doctor, authorities said.

The suspected shooter was also shot and is in critical condition, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said in a press conference Thursday afternoon. Whelan said the suspects’ injuries were not believed to be self-inflicted, but it’s still unclear who shot him.

Whelan added that the shooter had “psychiatric issues,” though police are still investigating the motive for the attack.

Mercy-Fitzgerald Hospital, a teaching hospital, is part of a regional Catholic healthcare network, Mercy Health System. It’s located several miles south of downtown Philadelphia.

TIME food and drink

This Company Is Making Millions By Giving You 5 Fewer Chips Per Bag

Lay's-New Flavor
Using images provided by Frito-Lay, this composite image shows the four finalists for its 2014 "Do Us a Flavor" contest in the U.S. Associated Press

Lay's flavored bags contain slightly fewer chips than regular bags, and the savings add up

The truth is out: yes, some bags of Lay’s potato chips do in fact contain fewer chips. It’s intentional, and it’s saving the company millions.

Lay’s regular packs are 10 oz., but the company’s bags of flavored chips are 9.5 oz, yet both sell for $4.29, according to the Associated Press. The difference is equivalent to roughly 5-6 chips. And while that gap is saving consumers about 75 greasy calories, the biggest benefits are to Lay’s parent company, PepsiCo, which raised its full-year earnings forecast Wednesday in part because of these flavored bags, whose interesting tastes were crowdsourced by potato chip-loving Americans.

Just how much is Lay’s making? Cutting half an ounce from a bag while leaving its price unchanged correlates roughly to a 21 cents-per-bag saving. Lay’s potato chips bring in over $1 billion annually in retail sales, equivalent to over 200 million bags, if the average price per bag is somewhere around $4. At 21 cents saved per bag, the total amount saved is therefore upwards of $50 million—quite a lot for Lay’s considering the tiny amount of chips on which consumers miss out.

The fewer chips strategy is a tack-on to PepsiCo’s larger effort to cut costs through productivity increases, a plan announced in 2012 that’s expected to save PepsiCo $1 billion annually through 2019. Overall this quarter, PepsiCo saw a 5% rise in worldwide on global organic snack revenue, and even a 2% global increase in global beverage sales. The two upward sales and general cost cutting are vital for PepsiCo’s ongoing battle against investor Nelson Peltz, a stakeholder who’s launched a campaign urging PepsiCo to split its snack business from its sluggish beverage business.

In the coming months, the reduced flavored bags will continue to benefit sales volume for Frito-Lay North America, according to PepsiCo CFO Hugh Johnston.

 

 

TIME weather

The Midwest Mayfly Invasion in 6 Photos (and a Gif)

A "massive emergence" of flying bugs


At about 8:45 p.m. Sunday the National Weather Service picked up this rather beautiful radar event, in which what registers as “light-moderate rain” seems to emanate from the Mississippi River between Wisconsin and Iowa and into Minnesota. But rain it was not. It was a swarm of mayflies. Gobs of mayflies. Piles and piles of mayflies.

July202014
National Weather Service/NOAA

The swarm lasted for a few hours and by the time it was over many a windshield and wall was caked in slimy bug carcasses. The swarm was blamed for a three-car pileup in Wisconsin that left one person hospitalized.

Scientists weren’t taken off guard by the event—it happens from time to time (a very similar “massive emergence” happened in June 2012) and is actually a sign of the health of the Mississippi. Mayflies gestate under water but once they mutate into winged creatures and rise from the depths they have one job and one job only—to make babies. The swarm seen in the radar above seems to move north because, like a weather system, it is carried that way in the wind.

The event, and others like it, amount to a feast for animals that feed on the mayfly orgy, making it a good time of year to be a bird or a fish—or the owner of a carwash, for that matter.

TIME

Every Execution in U.S. History in a Single Chart

See the rise and fall of methods of capital punishment since 1700—from hanging to burning to lethal injection, including Wednesday's botched execution in Arizona

Mouse over or tap a bar in the chart to see the figures for that year.

A botched lethal injection in Arizona Wednesday followed a similar episode in Oklahoma this spring. The incidents have once again thrown the prevailing method of execution in the United States into turmoil.

How states have executed prisoners has changed over time. More than half of the 15,723 executions in U.S. history have been by hanging. Today, lethal injection has replaced electrocution as the dominant method of capital punishment in the United States. Lethal injection has failed to quickly kill a convict before this year too. (There were no executions from 1967 to 1977. They resumed following a Supreme Court ruling.)

Data for historical executions through 1976 are derived from research conducted by M. Watt Espy and John Ortiz Smykla. Data since the end of the hiatus come from the Death Penalty Information Center.

Emily Maltby and Lon Tweeten contributing reporting to this story. The source code for this project is available on Time’s GitHub page. This post has been updated from its original posting on April 30, 2014, to reflect most recent figures.

TIME Nutrition

Why Your Bottled Water Contains Four Different Ingredients

Getty Images

Water you buy in the store is not just hydrogen and oxygen. Here's why food producers add all those extra ingredients.

Next time you reach for a bottle of water on store shelves, take a look at the ingredient list. You’re likely to find that it includes more than just water.

Popular bottled water brand Dasani, for example, lists magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride, and salt alongside purified water on its Nutrition Facts label. SmartWater contains calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, and potassium bicarbonate. Nestle Pure Life’s list includes calcium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, and magnesium sulfate. And these are just a few brands. Bottled water companies are purifying water, but then they’re adding extra ingredients back.

None of this should be cause for health concerns, says Marion Nestle, professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health and professor of Sociology at New York University. The additives being put into water are those naturally found in water and the quantities of these additives are likely too small to be of much significance. “If you had pure water by itself, it doesn’t taste have any taste,” says Bob Mahler, Soil Science and Water Quality professor at the University of Idaho. “So companies that sell bottled water will put in calcium, magnesium or maybe a little bit of salt.”

Taste tests have revealed that many people find distilled water to taste flat as opposed to spring waters, which can taste a bit sweet. Minerals offer a “slightly salty or bitter flavors,” which is likely why low mineral soft waters have a more appealing taste, Nestle wrote in her book What To Eat.

Many of the ingredients that are added to bottled water occur naturally in tap water and in our daily diets. Potassium chloride, for example, is a chemical compound that is often used as a supplement for potassium, which benefits heart health and aids normal muscular and digestive functions. Magnesium chloride, magnesium sulfate, and calcium chloride are all inorganic salts.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that Americans reduce current levels of sodium intake by 2,300 mg per day, so you would have to drink a lot of water to make much of a difference, Nestle says. The typical amount of sodium in water averages at around 17 mg per liter.

But just because additives are generally naturally occurring ingredients doesn’t mean that consumers shouldn’t look at labels. If labels show calories, that means sugars have been added. Some bottled waters can be high in sodium, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends only drinking water that contains 20 mg of sodium per liter or less.

The best choice that many water consumers can make may be to just stick to drinking tap water. “To the extent that tap water is clean and free of harmful contaminants,” says Nestle, “it beats everything in taste and cost.”

TIME weather

Suspected Tornado Kills at Least 2 at Virginia Campground

Virginia Storm Tornado
A tractor trailer truck lies on its side in the median of U.S. Route 13 while a fire engine responds to a nearby campground after a severe storm passed through the area, Cheriton, Va, July 24, 2014. Jay Diem—Eastern Shore News/AP

Campers at Cape Charles, Va. have been tweeting photos from the scene

Update 12:11pm

At least two people were killed and 20 injured when a suspected tornado touched down at a Virginia campground Thursday morning, leaving overturned campers and injuries in its wake.

Corinne Geller, a spokesperson for the Virginia Police Department, confirmed that the weather event had left two dead. Earlier reports from a local fire department had said there were three fatalities.

“It came in real quick,” Easterville volunteer firefighter Brittney Eder told the AP. “The sky turned jet black.”

At 8:38 am, the National Weather Service tweeted out a tornado warning for the area. The twister hit the Cherrystone Campground, near Cape Charles, shortly before 9 am.

While the weather incident can’t be confirmed as a tornado until a storm survey team has assessed the campgrounds, NWS meteorologist Mike Rusnak says that based on the type of thunderstorm in the area and “from the pictures we’ve seen, we do think it was a tornado.”

Jordan Bertok was on the campgrounds with her family at the time of the storm and has been tweeting pictures of the devastation. “Just lived through a tornado,” she wrote. “Children are missing. People are dead. Trees are down.” Continuing with the message: “This is hell. I’m in hell.”

Betrok’s grandparents went in their car to take cover. They were hospitalized for injuries, although Betrok said that they are “doing well.”

Local media outlet WAVY-TV reported that six ambulances and a mass casualty truck arrived on the scene to assist the injured and help transport them to the hospital. The news source also reports that some boats were flipped in Oyster Bay, although it’s unknown whether they were occupied.

TIME Business

Take a Ride on The Newest Record-Breaking Wooden Roller Coaster

Goliath, the Six Flags Great America ride, takes wooden coasters to new heights and speeds

+ READ ARTICLE

It may not be as tall as some steel roller coasters out there, but Goliath at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ill. brings the fear factor to another level.

“It’s really, really intimidating to get on something that looks like it’s made of toothpicks,” says TIME’s Deputy Culture Editor Sam Lansky, who went on the ride not once, but twice.

Goliath, with its 180-foot drop at 85 degrees and top speed of 72 miles per hour, broke three world records for wooden coasters.

Not breaking a sweat yet? Take a look at the video, then see if you think you can handle going on the ride yourself.

TIME

Family: Teen Pilot Who Crashed in Ocean Knew Risks

(PLAINFIELD, Ind.) — Haris Suleman knew that flying around the world carried risks. But like adventurers before him, the 17-year-old pilot from Indiana also believed dreams aren’t achieved without taking chances.

“Why does any explorer undertake the necessary risks in order to accomplish their dream? Because that person has a drive, they have a focus, and they have a need to explore that dream,” he wrote in a July 15 blog for The Huffington Post.

That dream turned to tragedy Tuesday when his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean en route from American Samoa to Honolulu. Crews recovered Haris’ body but were still searching for 58-year-old Babar Suleman on Wednesday.

As plans for welcome-home celebrations shifted to mourning, family and friends defended the father-son team and their mission, saying they had known the dangers when they set out to break a record while raising money to help build schools in Babar Suleman’s native Pakistan.

“It was an absolutely noble cause that they took this journey on, and they knew the dangers,” said family friend Azher Khan, who spoke during a news conference Wednesday in Plainfield, Indiana, where the Sulemans lived.

Babar Suleman had long dreamed of flying around the world. He and his son decided to make the adventure a fundraiser for the Citizens Foundation, which has built 1,000 schools in Pakistan.

They also hoped to set the record for the fastest circumnavigation around the world in a single-engine airplane with the youngest pilot in command to do so.

The duo planned the trip carefully. They took classes in how to survive an ocean landing and packed a life raft with food and other supplies in case they had to bail out over water. They calculated their fuel needs and plotted their course, arranging stops in Europe, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific, before setting out June 19.

“With a trip like this, there’s always a risk, and they did prepare for that risk,” Hiba Suleman said of her brother and father. “You can plan all you want, but sometimes things just don’t happen the way you planned.”

But others questioned the wisdom of putting a 17-year-old at the controls for such a grueling journey.

“I would put it along the lines of a 17-year-old behind the wheel,” said Carol E. Giles, a private aviation consultant and former Federal Aviation Administration official who noted that younger pilots have less experience coping with emergencies.

An inspector for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in American Samoa will be looking into the cause of the accident. National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Terry Williams said the agency will work with local authorities on the investigation, but he couldn’t confirm if the NTSB would send an investigator too.

Babar Suleman had flown for more than a decade and had experience with emergency landings. In 2008, he landed his plane on an Indianapolis highway after its single engine died.

His son had flown with him since the age of 8 and received his pilot’s license and instrument rating in June.

He emphasized preparations with his son, both before and during the journey.

“Hope is never a good plan,” the elder Suleman told NBC News before setting off. “We have to plan for all kinds of eventualities.”

Babar Suleman expressed frustration with his son in a July 9 blog post chronicling their journey over Haris’ failure to know the exact location of an airport.

“I have been harping on Haris that an instrument pilot always flies with precision, always maintains the center line while taxiing, landing and takeoff, never busts the assigned altitudes … and is always way ahead of the plane. Not knowing the exact location of the Walton airport was rather unsettling,” he wrote.

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