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walking it back
June 17, 2019

Just hours after announcing that the U.S. planned on cutting off aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, as President Trump ordered in March, the State Department on Monday night said it will move forward with $432 million in projects and grants already approved by Congress.

The Trump administration said it was stopping aid as a way to pressure the countries into doing more about the high number of undocumented migrants from Central America coming to the United States. The asylum seekers are fleeing poverty and violence, and several lawmakers argue that cutting off aid is cruel and counterproductive if you want to slow down migrants flows.

The continued funding, from the 2017 budget, supports health, poverty alleviation, and education programs that were too far advanced to end. The State Department said the Trump administration will work with Congress to determine what to do with an additional $200 million in approved funds it is diverting from the three countries, and some $370 million from the 2018 budget will be moved to other projects. Catherine Garcia

June 4, 2019

"People to people" travel between the United States and Cuba will no longer be allowed, the Treasury Department said in a statement on Tuesday.

Even before the U.S. restored full diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2014, the most common way for Americans to travel to the island nation was through guided group trips focused on education and culture. But the Trump administration, which has attempted to refashion some of the binds between the two countries loosened under the Obama administration, has banned this form of travel. The U.S. will also now deny licenses for private and corporate aircraft and boats to travel to Cuba, The Hill reports.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Cuba's support for the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was a key factor in the decision.

"Cuba continues to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes," he said.

While it will become more difficult or most Americans to take a trip to Cuba for the sake of exploring the country, opportunities still remain open for university groups, academic research, journalism, and other forms of professional meetings. Tim O'Donnell

November 13, 2018

If Jennifer Senior could go back to the summer of 2017, she would have written a very different review of the book Conscience of a Conservative.

Senior, now a New York Times opinion columnist, was a book critic when Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) released his tome. In the Times on Tuesday, Senior writes that she gave the book a "mostly kind review," but now, she's "seriously reconsidering" it. Flake has "always been a class act," Senior said, and she applauded him for being the first Republican senator to "call President Trump the domestic and international menace that he is." But while Flake loudly asserted that he was standing up to Trump, he still went along and voted with the president 84 percent of the time. "Jeff Flake's book couldn't even convince Jeff Flake," Senior said.

Flake may have said he really, truly believed Trump posed a threat to democracy, but his voting record paints a different picture. Flake had ample opportunities to "align himself with the opposition," like the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act. Instead, he said he had misgivings about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, yet still voted to confirm him. Trump is now the face of the Republican Party, Senior said, which is "heavy with nativists, populists, protectionists, assorted supremacists." Flake has urgently called for a return to the party's roots, but that has had "zero effect," and instead of his book being a critique of Trump, it "was a tragedy." Catherine Garcia

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