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Trump Put A Stop To The MLB And Cuban Baseball Federation Deal And Here’s Why It Matters

The Trump administration on Monday canceled a deal that would have made it easier for Cuban baseball players to compete professionally in the U.S. The nixed deal is a reversal of a policy from former President Obama’s administration created to soften relations between the U.S. and Cuba. The Trump administration saw different as they argued that the sport’s governing body is part of the Cuban government and the deal would have violated U.S. trade law. The deal, which would have run through October 2021, allowed Cuban players to sign with teams under similar rules as other international players from Japan and South Korea.

Players who were over 25 years old would be free to sign with organizations that paid a “release fee” to a Cuban baseball club.

The U.S. economic embargo on Cuba currently denies Americans from doing business with Cuba’s government. The Obama administration’s ruling had cleared a pathway for an agreement between Major League Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation reached late last year.

The deal was designed to allow Cuban baseball players to join U.S. baseball teams without having to defect, which was standard in previous years.
The Obama administration hoped that the policy would create a system where Cuban players would no longer have to defect from the Cuban government, which commonly involved dangerous journeys at the hands of human smugglers.

“Establishing a safe, legal process for entry to our system is the most important step we can take to ending the exploitation and endangerment of Cuban players who pursue careers in Major League Baseball,” Tony Clark, executive director for the MLB players’ union in a statement back in December.

Just last week the Cuban federation released its first group of players able to sign contracts with MLB organizations, and some were expected to be playing in the U.S. this year.

Cuba has produced some of MLB’s biggest stars. Many of them defected on their own and faced deadly circumstances to make it here.

Among the most notable recent players that have defected from Cuba are
Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes. All have had well documented stories of their defections from Cuba and the perilous journeys they took to get to the U.S.

MLB sent a letter to the Treasury and State Departments, outlining the purpose of its agreement and the stories of players that have defected. MLB even requested a meeting with government officials, though no meeting was ever granted.

The cancelled deal has gotten criticism from the Cuban Baseball Federation and advocates who say Cuban players will be further placed in danger.

Many in the baseball community see the canceled deal as a major blow to incoming talent and puts more players at risk. MLB said on Monday that their primary goal is to “end the human trafficking of baseball players from Cuba.”

The Cuban Baseball Federation spoke out on Twitter about the disappointment of the reversed policy. They said the “politically motivated attacks on the deal hurt players, their families, and fans.”

The canceled policy is also a political win Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who fought the deal between MLB and the Cuban Baseball Federation. Rubio challenged the policy saying it was in the benefit of the Cuban government rather then in the interest of the baseball players.

“The reason Cuban baseball players have to escape & seek asylum to play in America is not U.S. law or policy The reason is the Cuban govt won’t let them leave to play here,” Rubio said on Twitter.

What’s next for Cuban baseball players that want to play for MLB?

Without a policy in place, Cuban players may have to return to defection which could continue the dangerous trend of smuggling. Overall, this is a huge blow to Cuban players and an even bigger one to the game of baseball.

One of the players who defected from Cuba is New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman. Chapman, who spoke with media on Monday, said the news is a blow to the many young aspiring Cuban players who want to come to MLB.

“It is definitely a sensitive topic, so many things behind it. Anytime you are talking about baseball and politics, it’s a very sensitive subject. But, I just feel bad for those young ball players, who are probably not going to have the same chance to play here,” Chapman said through Yankees’ interpreter Marlin Abreu. “It’s definitely difficult for a lot of Cuban players playing at this level here in the States. The way we got here was, it was tough, to say the least.

One thing is for sure, the cancelled policy would have created more opportunities for younger players and allowed them to avoid the dangerous and costly process of defecting. This now leaves many players in Cuba searching for answers on how to move forward with their major league aspirations.

READ: 21 Latino Baseball Players That Are Poised To Make An Impact This Season

Trump Tried To Stop Migrants From Receiving Important Public Health Benefits, These Three Judges Just Blocked Him

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Trump Tried To Stop Migrants From Receiving Important Public Health Benefits, These Three Judges Just Blocked Him

Equality Action Network

Federal judges in three states — New York, California and Washington — have issued temporary injunctions against the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule, preventing it from taking effect on Oct. 15.

The controversial rule would make it more difficult for immigrants to get green cards if it looks as though they might need public assistance. Titled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” the rule sparked several legal challenges.

Federal courts moved to protect immigrants from a Trump rule that would have affected millions of people.

The rule was scheduled to take effect on October 15, but federal judges in New York, California, and Washington state temporarily blocked it on Friday.

On Tuesday, judges in Maryland and Illinois joined in halting the policy. Judge George Daniels of the Southern District of New York found that the government failed to justify the need for a stricter definition of public charge and called the rule “repugnant to the American Dream.” Nine lawsuits have been filed so far challenging the rule, arguing that it will result in poorer health outcomes and increased food and housing insecurity for potentially millions of people. 

“This rule is a deliberate attempt to exclude poor people from the citizenship pool,” said Cheasty Anderson, senior policy associate with the Texas Children’s Defense Fund. “They sanctimoniously call this merit-based immigration, but they’re imagining merit as only a dollar sign.” 

The rule imposed by Trump would severely limit migrants’ rights to claim food or medical assistance.

In the fall of 2018, the Trump administration proposed changes to a longstanding immigration policy known as the public charge rule, making it harder for low-income immigrants to become permanent residents or enter the country. Currently, immigrants applying for green cards and visas can be denied if immigration officers find them likely to receive more than half of their income from cash assistance programs or require long-term care.

The new regulation would dramatically expand the criteria to decide if someone is a “public charge,” allowing immigration officials to consider the use of other public benefits like Medicaid, SNAP, and housing programs. Lacking English proficiency, having a medical condition, and being low-income could also hurt immigrants’ applications.

Department of Homeland Security estimates the final rule would directly impact around 382,000 people annually.

According to DHS, the final rule would only apply to green card and visa applicants; it exempts asylum-seekers, refugees, and some victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. But confusion around the rule has led many to unnecessarily refuse or unenroll from assistance programs that they or their children are eligible to receive. The government warned of this risk as early as 1999, when it issued a guidance acknowledging that similar confusion had stopped eligible immigrants from getting help, leading to “an adverse impact not just on the potential recipients, but on public health and the general welfare.”

But the chilling effect extends far beyond immigrants directly subject to the rule.

According to a Manatt Health analysis, more than 13 million people nationwide are at risk of unenrolling from Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as a result of the rule, including 8.8 million U.S. citizens with noncitizen family members.

In states like Texas, where more than one out of four children in Texas have a noncitizen parent, many migrant parents are now taking their children off of health care programs like Medicaid, wrongly assuming that if their family members receive public assistance it will impact their own ability to obtain a green card in the future.

“Adoption of the rule will worsen Texas’ sky-high rate of uninsured, already the highest in the country, and immeasurably harm the health and well-being of Texas and Texans,” wrote Douglas Curran, former president of the Texas Medical Association, in a letter opposing the rule. 

Migrants across the country have been forgoing important food and medical care assistance for fear of being denied green cards or even deportation.

More than 13 million people nationwide are at risk of unenrolling from Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program as a result of the rule.

Last month, Elizabeth Hasse, an immigration attorney with the Tahirih Justice Center in Houston, spoke to a client about renewing her work permit. Hasse asked her client to bring in her tax returns, paychecks, and proof that three of her four children, all U.S. citizens, were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid. But the client told Hasse she had decided not to renew their benefits this time.

In an interview with the Texas Observer, Hasse said: “I was surprised because she’s a client who really needs those benefits and her children have consistently received them for many years. And out of fear, without even asking me about it, she just decided on her own that she was going to try to make it without.” The reason? The woman was afraid that receiving benefits like SNAP could be held against her in the future, possibly leading to the denial of a green card.

STD Rates In The US Are At Record Levels And Many Blame Trump’s Policies Targeting Clinics Like Planned Parenthood

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STD Rates In The US Are At Record Levels And Many Blame Trump’s Policies Targeting Clinics Like Planned Parenthood

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For years, we’ve been hearing that Millenials and Gen Z are having less sex with fewer partners than previous generations. They’re also waiting until older than previous generations. However, despite those facts, America’s STD rates are spiraling out of control.

But the numbers are clear: With nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis diagnosed in 2017, rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are at an all-time high in the U.S., according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

A new report from the CDC shows just how extreme the increase in STIs really is.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an annual report revealing that the number of combined reported cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia reached a record high last year. Titled “Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report”, the report noted that in 2018, there were more than 2.4 million syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia infections combined — an increase of more than 100,000 from the previous year.

There was also a 71 percent increase in syphilis cases since 2014, along with a 22 percent increase from 2017 in the number of newborn deaths related to congenital syphilis.

What’s harder to pinpoint, however, is the reason behind those soaring statistics.

On paper, it seems like STD rates should be dropping. Condom use is up. Teenagers and millennials are having less sex with fewer partners than generations past. Stigmas around sexuality and sexual health are beginning to break down. And yet, for four consecutive years, STD rates have broken records. Why?

The problem is complicated, says Dr. Bradley Stoner, medical director of the St. Louis STD/HIV Prevention Training Center at Washington University in St. Louis. But a good portion of it, he says, can be traced back to lackluster funding for federal resources like the CDC, which has seen its budget for STD prevention sit stagnant for almost two decades. Increasing federal funding, he says, could allow organizations like the CDC to hire more people focused on STD prevention, increase public health education campaigns and make testing and treatment resources more accessible.

Without adequate resources, however, the STD prevention community doesn’t have the manpower to take steps that could really work — things like building out systems and procedures for contacting and screening the partners of people who are diagnosed with infections, who may be carrying and spreading STDs without knowing it. Many STDs are asymptomatic, often making it difficult to know if you have one.

The nationwide closure of publicly funded STD clinics hasn’t helped matters, either

While the CDC did not explicitly state it, STI testing is becoming harder to come by for vulnerable populations because free test clinics — including some Planned Parenthood clinics — are being defunded by Trump administration policies. Ironically, the Trump administration’s pro-life policies have put newborn babies at a higher risk for death. Indeed, the Trump administration’s policy decision to cut off Title X funding to health care centers that provide abortion care is resulting in the closing of clinics that don’t offer abortion services, but do offer STD testing.

“While we’ve been battling sky-high STI rates, [Republican] politicians…have spent years relentlessly working to chip away at Ohioans’ reproductive health care,” Kersha Deibel, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region, told Vice in September. “This is the world they want to see: one where women lose access to birth control, where information about how to access abortion is held hostage, and where, if you don’t have money, it’s almost impossible to access an STI test or a cancer screening.”

According to the CDC report, defunding public programs is merely one part of a larger problem.

The Center said data suggests there are multiple issues at play: reduced access to STD prevention due to drug use, poverty, and stigma; decreased condom use among gay and bisexual men; and cuts to STD programs at the state and local levels.

“In recent years, more than half of local programs have experienced budget cuts, resulting in clinic closures, reduced screening, staff loss, and reduced patient follow-up and linkage to care services,” the CDC said.

What’s even more wild, is that in 2000 syphilis was nearly eradicated from the US.

Since the recession, some programs were cut because STDs weren’t seen as such a threat, but many of the cut programs didn’t have their funding restored post-recession. Compounded with newfound resources flooding other initiatives, like the Trump administration’s federal budget supporting abstinence-only programs, STD prevention programs have few resources now. According to the National Coalition of STD Directors, more than half of local STD programs have experienced budget cuts.

Yet when reports like this one from the CDC are published, while it is meant to raise awareness, it can often perpetuate the stigma around sexual health and STDs.

Jenelle Marie Pierce, Executive Director of TheSTDProject.com and Spokesperson for PositiveSingles.com, told Salon in an email that “using language like ‘skyrocketing,’ ‘devastating,’ and ‘astronomical,’ for example, is fear-mongering, and it only serves to further stigmatize STIs by extrapolating one component of a giant report without including thoughtful analysis, supportive resources, or content that moves the conversation around STIs forward.”