White House ordered Trump administration officials to boycott WHCA Dinner

The White House has ordered Trump administration officials to boycott the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, according to a senior administration official.


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Trump Administration Ends Deal Allowing Cuban Baseball Players to Directly Sign With MLB

HAVANA (AP) — The Trump administration is moving to end a deal allowing Cuban baseball players to sign contracts directly with Major League Baseball organizations. The change will once again require Cuban players to cut ties with their national program before signing with MLB.

The Treasury Department told MLB attorneys in a letter Friday that it was reversing an Obama administration decision allowing the major leagues to pay the Cuban Baseball Federation a release fee equal to 25% of each Cuban player’s signing bonus. The decision made public Monday afternoon appears to make the MLB-Cuba deal unworkable by eliminating the payment mechanism, similar to one MLB has with leagues in China, Korea and Japan.

“The U.S. does not support actions that would institutionalize a system by which a Cuban government entity garnishes the wages of hard-working athletes who simply seek to live and compete in a free society,” National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said. “The administration looks forward to working with MLB to identify ways for Cuban players to have the individual freedom to benefit from their talents, and not as property of the Cuban state.”

The MLB and Cuba engaged in intense negotiations on a player-transfer deal through the Obama administration’s two-year effort to normalize relations with Cuba but the deal was only finalized after Donald Trump took office pledging to roll back Obama’s policy. Opponents of normalization inside and outside the administration argued for its cancellation as soon as it was announced, and appear to have now succeeded.

U.S. law prohibits virtually all payments to the Cuban government under the 60-year embargo on the island but MLB argued the Cuban Baseball Federation, which oversees all aspects of the sport on the island, was not formally a part of the Cuban state.

Opponents called that argument ridiculous given the tight control the highly regimented government maintains over virtually every aspect of life in Cuba.

The letter from the Office of Foreign Assets Control obtained by The Associated Press agrees, saying that “in light of facts recently brought to our attention, and after consultation with the U.S. Department of State, OFAC has determined that MLB’s payments to the Cuban Baseball Federation are not authorized.”

“We stand by the goal of the agreement, which is to end the human trafficking of baseball players from Cuba,” an MLB statement said.

Without a formal path from Cuba to the major leagues, hundreds of top players have left the island for good, many making harrowing crossings on rafts and rickety boats in the years before Cuba abandoned a hated exit permit requirement for most of its citizens.

While such dangerous escapes were mostly eliminated with greater travel freedoms, players still needed to cut ties with Cuban baseball and often their families and hometowns, going years without returning after signing with the major leagues.

“The deal with Major League Baseball is an attempt to stop human trafficking, encourage cooperation and elevate the level of baseball,” the Cuban Baseball Federation said on Twitter. “The politically motivated attacks on the deal hurt players, their families, and fans.”

Last week the Cuban federation released its first group of players able to sign contracts directly with Major League Baseball organizations, and some expected to be playing in the United States this year.

The 34 players were 17 to 25, classified as international amateurs under MLB rules and eligible to sign minor league contracts. No likely stars were apparent on the list, but more notable players included 22-year-old Raidel Martinez Perez and 23-year-old Liván Moinelo Pita, who have played professionally in Japan; 17-year-old infielder Loidel Chapellí Zulueta; and 18-year-old pitcher Norge Carlos Vera Aldana.

The Cuban federation also agreed to release all players 25 and older with at least six years of professional experience to be classified as international professionals under MLB’s labor contract with the players’ association and not subject to international amateur signing bonus pools.

___

Associated Press Baseball Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.

Sports – TIME

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The Trump administration is forcing this health start-up that took Chinese money into a fire sale

PatientsLikeMe sold a majority stake to Chinese company iCarbonX in 2017. The deal is backfiring now that Trump is clamping down on China, as CFIUS forces the Chinese firm to divest its majority stake.
Health and Science

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Several U.S. states sue Trump administration over school lunch rules

Several U.S. states sued the Trump administration on Wednesday, seeking to undo its recent decision to relax standards for restricting sodium content and requiring whole grains in school breakfasts and lunches.


Reuters: Politics

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Trump Administration Changes Course, Asks Court To Strike Down ACA

In a dramatic move that will have implications for the coming 2020 election, the Trump administration Monday night reversed its previous position and asked a federal appeals court to strike down the entire the Affordable Care Act.

The Justice Department said it now agrees with the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the law — a group of Republican attorneys general and governors.

In December, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas, agreed with the GOP plaintiffs, saying that because the 2017 tax law passed by Congress eliminated the tax penalty for not having health insurance coverage, the rest of the health law is now unconstitutional.

A group of Democratic attorneys general, led by California’s Xavier Becerra, appealed that ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The law remains in place while the case proceeds.

The Trump administration originally declined to accept the plaintiffs’ argument. Instead, officials argued that since the tax was now gone, the provisions of the law requiring insurance companies to sell to people with preexisting conditions and not charge them more should fall.

Now that position has changed.

“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed,” said a terse letter from Assistant Attorney General Joseph “Jody” Hunt to the appeals court handling the case. That means the administration is now formally supporting elimination of the entire ACA.

The Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment on the change and referred all questions to the Justice Department.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly called for the law to be repealed and replaced, but when Republicans controlled Congress they could not muster the necessary votes. Just last week, he lashed out at the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for failing to support that effort.

The government’s court filing came on the same day federal officials announced that more than 11 million people used the insurance marketplaces set up by the law to purchase policies this year. The Justice Department move also occurred hours before House Democrats were scheduled to unveil their proposal to shore up the health law — setting up another battle line for the 2020 contests.

But Democrats on Monday night were quick to challenge the latest action.

“While the Trump Administration broadens its monstrous ambitions from destroying protections for pre-existing conditions to tearing down every last benefit and protection the Affordable Care Act provides, Democrats are fiercely defending the law of the land and protecting all Americans’ health care,” said a statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted the move in comments on the Senate floor Tuesday morning. “In two short sentences, the Trump administration crystallized its position that the health care coverage enjoyed by nearly 20 million people, as well as the protections by tens of millions more with preexisting conditions, should be annihilated,” he said.

Lawyers who have been following the case call the administration’s actions more than unusual.

“Much as it may dislike the fact, the Trump administration has an obligation to defend acts of Congress,” wrote Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor and a former Justice Department attorney, in a blog post.

Invalidating the ACA could also have enormous effects on the entire health system. It would end not only the health exchanges, but also the expansion of the Medicaid program, numerous changes to Medicare and protections for people with employer-provided coverage.

“The act is now part of the plumbing of the health care system,” Bagley wrote. “Which means the Trump administration has now committed itself to a legal position that would inflict untold damage on the American public.”

Kaiser Health News

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Trump administration considers making hospitals publish prices they negotiate with insurers

The Trump administration is considering a rule that would require hospitals to publicize the prices they negotiate with insurers.
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California sues Trump administration over rule that stops doctors from discussing abortion

California on Monday filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over a new Title X rule that bars family-planning clinics from providing abortion services or referrals.
Health and Science

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Trump administration inches closer to defunding Planned Parenthood

The US Department of Health and Human Services issued its draft final rule to revise the Title X family planning program Friday, jeopardizing a decades-old program that serves millions of low-income people, critics say.


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Trump administration to end fuel economy talks with California: official

The Trump administration has decided to end negotiations with California over plans to roll back fuel economy rules, a government official confirmed on Wednesday.


Reuters: Politics

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‘Definitely and imminently’ filing suit against Trump administration: Xavier Becerra

ABC News

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Trump administration proposes rules for Medicare plans as it seeks to lower drug prices

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement that the goal would be to create a system that prioritizes savings for patients.
Health and Science

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Trump has concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from senior officials in administration

Aides said there is no substantial record of the president’s meetings with the Russian leader even in classified files, but Trump allies say he has a justified fear of leaks. Late Saturday, Trump denied concealing the meetings.
Politics

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Trump administration lays groundwork to declare national emergency to build wall

Administration eyes civil works projects under Army Corps of Engineers budget.
Politics

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Trump administration releases new report on climate change

ABC News

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Trump administration asks Supreme Court to take up military transgender ban

In yet another aggressive attempt to bypass federal appeals courts, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court on Friday to hear a challenge to President Donald Trump’s policy that bars most transgender individuals from military service.


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Judge blocks Trump administration from denying asylum to immigrants who cross border illegally

A federal judge on Monday issued a temporary restraining order blocking the Trump administration from denying asylum to immigrants who cross the US-Mexico border illegally.


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Trump administration weakens Obamacare birth control coverage mandate

The Trump administration issued two final rules on Wednesday providing employers more flexibility with exemptions to deny women insurance coverage for birth control.


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Trump administration considering limiting asylum seekers at southern border

The Trump administration is considering a plan to limit most, if not all, members of the group of migrants in Mexico heading toward the United States from crossing the border.


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Trump administration courts investors in broad effort to combat rising health care costs

The Trump administration is battling rising health costs by going after higher prices.
Health and Science

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Trump administration weighs new family-separation effort at border

Determined to stem crossings, officials are considering asking parents to choose between detention or separation.
Politics

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Trump administration may soon require drugmakers to advertise drug prices, report says

The proposal is slated to be introduced next week, Politico reported, citing four people with knowledge of the plan. It's a key piece of President Donald Trump's blueprint to lower drug prices, which the administration unveiled in May. 
Health and Science

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Trump administration says trade pact will bring auto jobs back to U.S.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur
Ross sees tens of thousands of jobs flowing back into the U.S.
auto sector, especially among suppliers, thanks to the Trump
administration’s new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, while
industry executives and analysts are less upbeat as higher costs
could hurt sales.


Reuters: Company News

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