MLB bans playing in Venezuela amid Trump order

Major League Baseball has banned all affiliated players from participating in the Venezuela winter league this season, a response intended to comply with President Donald Trump's embargo against the country's Nicolas Maduro-led government.

"MLB has been in contact with the relevant government agencies regarding the Executive Order issued by President Trump on Venezuela," the league said in a statement. "MLB will fully adhere to the policies implemented by our government. With respect to the Venezuela Winter League, MLB will suspend its involvement in that league until it receives direction from the relevant agencies that participation by affiliated players is consistent with the Executive Order."

The potential repercussions of the prohibition, which prevents major league and minor league players from joining the 75-year-old Liga Venezolana de Beísbol Profesional (LVBP), could be significant. Multiple sources told ESPN they feared the ban would warp the heretofore strong bond between MLB and Venezuela and spawn a situation similar to that of Cuba, another embargoed country whose complicated relationship with the league has festered for decades.

Dozens of affiliated players either return home to Venezuela or travel there annually to play winter ball, as many supplement paltry minor league incomes with low- to mid-five-figure sums to play in a 63-game season. The LVBP, whose champion participates with those from the Dominican, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Cuban and Panamanian leagues in the annual Caribbean Series, is sponsored by Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), the country's state-run oil company, according to sources.

The murkiness of the LVBP's link to a government-run business spurred MLB to consider the ban and consult with the Major League Baseball Players Association, according to sources. The fear, sources said, is that players agreeing to deals with a government-affiliated entity -- or agents consummating the deals -- would run afoul of the Aug. 5 executive order, which banned any such transactions.

Venezuela, once a bustling economic power in Latin America, has plunged into crisis, with widespread food and medicine shortages, millions of refugees leaving the country and toxic political infighting. The U.S. recognizes Juan Guaidó, the leader of the opposition, as president instead of Maduro, who remains in power.

One consequence of MLB's plan, sources said, could be Maduro retaliating by banning the league from signing amateur players in Venezuela. The country has proved to be a hotbed of talent, with Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras and New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres among the 95 Venezuela-born players who have logged major league time this season.

In recent years, as the economic strife worsened, teams shut down academies in Venezuela and consolidated their Latin American operations in the Dominican Republic. Top Venezuelan prospects have begun following suit, according to sources. Some of the best 12- and 13-year-old players in the country have moved with their families to the Dominican Republic in anticipation of signing with major league teams at age 16, sources said.

While all of the concerns about the executive order could be mollified by an agreement between the United States and Venezuela -- both countries on Thursday acknowledged recent back channel discussions -- MLB's desire to abide by it comes at a moment when the league's international dealings have been under scrutiny.

The Trump administration in April scuttled a deal between MLB and the Cuban government that would have allowed Cuban players to sign directly with the league instead of taking the circuitous and dangerous paths offered by traffickers. The Department of Justice continues a wide-ranging investigation into baseball's Latin American business -- including deals for Cuban defectors -- that sources said have targeted a number of teams, including the Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.

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MLB this week contacted the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the U.S. Treasury department that imposes economic sanctions, seeking clarity on the executive order, according to a source. Teams expect to continue to sign amateur players as long as Venezuela does not prohibit it, believing that doing so would not breach the executive order because individual teenage players are not under the Venezuelan government's purview.

Whether that legal argument holds up is unclear and part of the complications caused by the embargo. While a number of major league and minor league players planned to compete in the LVBP, contracts are not typically agreed upon until September and October. With no affiliated players allowed, Luis Amaro, the general manager for the Aguilas del Zulia, said he expected Venezuela natives playing in the Mexican and Italian leagues this summer to fill out the rosters.

Until then, MLB and the MLBPA can only wait to see the consequences of the potential action. The lockdown of the Venezuelan talent pool, while not crippling, would significantly hinder the talent base in the minor leagues, where hundreds of Venezuelans play. The lack of a winter option for young players in Venezuela concerned one agent, who said LVBP helps keep players out of trouble when they return home. Another agent, who expected multiple clients to make up for below-minimum-wage minor league salaries by playing in Venezuela, said he hopes clients still can get jobs in the Dominican, Mexican or Puerto Rican leagues.

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Trump-immigration: His racist and xenophobic ideas

The Associated Press (AP) revealed days ago in Washington Donald Trump’s ideas on how the US society should be.

That news agency states that the current White House government tries to give a turn to immigration so it be “whiter and wealthier”.

The said move aims to change the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty:

“Give your poor, your tired. Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”.

That henceforth would be:

“Give me your tired and your poor that can stand on their own feet and will not become a public burden”.

Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is responsible for executing such a modification and affirmed that the new text was written for Europeans.

AP considers it is about another challenging step to achieve his strategy of winning votes with an eye on the 2020 elections.

However, the president’s machination could pose the risk of drifting suburban women away and increasing the number of Latinos registered to vote.

Beto O’Rourke, former representative and Democratic presidential hopeful said: “This government has finally admitted what we’ve known all along. They believe the Statue of Liberty only applies to white people”.

According to a study of the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), those ideas would reduce immigration from Mexico and Central America, and would increase the number of migrants from other regions, especially from Europe.

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a policy analyst at the American Immigration Council, said: “United States wants to make it so that it’s a path only for those who have already succeeded”.

AP remarked that for Trump, immigrants are stealing his supporters’ jobs and denying working class whites opportunities for success.

In tune with that the head of state insists on presenting himself as a passionate defender of that kind of member of US society.

As we all know, he has contemptuously spoken about immigrants from black, Hispanic-majority countries and described Mexicans as rappers and criminals during his 2016 presidential campaign.

At the same time that in 2018, he privately referred to Central American and African countries as “shithole” nations.

Phrases like those are welcomed by the same far-right that took Donald Trump to the White House years ago.

And by individuals such as John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Marco Rubio who are part of his most intimate and influential environment together with the Tea Party and the Ku Klux Klan that haven’t hidden their links with the current government of the United States.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

‘Not our kind of shopping’: Kremlin says ‘buying Greenland’ strictly between US & Denmark

The Kremlin doesn’t want anything to do with the row between the US and Denmark over the ham-fisted proposal to sell Greenland, the spokesman for the Russian president said.

“This is not our business. We do not engage in this kind of international shopping,” Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Thursday when asked about the Greenland debacle. The leaders of the two countries have been exchanging some irritated remarks lately after US President Donald Trump’s suggestion to purchase the Arctic island from its current sovereign was turned down.

“If we get this right, they have been rubbing each other the wrong way to some degree,” Peskov said. “Again, this is not our issue and we wouldn’t want to get involved.”

Also on rt.com ‘She blew me off’: Trump lashes out at ‘nasty’ Danish PM over refusal to sell Greenland...

Trump’s offer to buy Greenland from Denmark surfaced last week, but the European nation simply said it was not for sale. A few days and jokes later Trump suddenly canceled his scheduled visit to Denmark, which many of its subjects took as an insult. In his latest move Trump doubled down by calling Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen “nasty” for publicly saying Greenland was not for sale.

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Israel bars entry to US politicians Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib

Donald Trump had said letting in high-profile pair would ‘show great weakness’

Israel has announced it will block the US congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country after public pressure from Donald Trump.

“It’s unacceptable to allow the entrance to the country of those who wish to harm the state of Israel,” the country’s interior ministry said.

Omar and Tlaib, who have been outspokenly critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, had planned to visit Palestine and Jerusalem next week.

There had been vigorous speculation in the past few weeks that the Israeli government might bar the two women, who are among the four Democrats who Trump said last month should go back to the countries they “originally came from”. Three were born in the US and one, Omar, moved there as a child.

Shortly before the Israeli announcement, Trump said allowing the women to enter “would show great weakness”. It was not immediately clear if the Israeli government made its final decision before or after Trump’s comments.

“They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds … They are a disgrace!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The ban prompted strong rebukes from Palestinian, Israeli and US politicians, civil society groups and former diplomats.

The Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren said before the announcement that barring elected officials for their political views would be a shameful and unprecedented move by Israel.

Bernie Sanders, another Democratic contender, said the ban was “a sign of enormous disrespect to these elected leaders, to the United States Congress and to the principles of democracy”.

Israel passed a law in 2017 that allows the government to deport people who support a boycott of Israel or Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. The measure, widely condemned as anti-democratic and anti-free speech, was designed to combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Omar and Tlaib have said they support the use of boycotts to pressure governments, including Israel’s, on rights abuses. They have sought to pass a resolution in the House of Representatives championing the right to participate in them.

'She went back with me': Ilhan Omar posts photos with Pelosi in Ghana

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, accused the two women of aiming to use their trip to “strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy”.

Israel has used the BDS legislation to block entry to students and activists but also foreign officials, including French parliamentarians and members of the European parliament. It is not clear if a US member of congress has ever been barred before.

Ayman Odeh, who runs an Arab party in Israel, said the ban exposed “the true face of Israel’s occupation”. Referring to Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent, he wrote on Twitter: “Israel has always banned Palestinians from their land and separated us from other Palestinians, but this time the Palestinian is a US congresswoman.”

The interior ministry said Tlaib could request a permit to enter on “humanitarian grounds for a personal visit with her family”, but approval was not guaranteed.

Omar and Tlaib were planning to see the Palestinian cities of Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah and to spend time in the disputed city of Jerusalem. They would have had to pass through Israeli security checks to enter both the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Alon Pinkas, formerly Israel’s consul in New York, said the country should “engage Omar and Tlaib, [and] show them where they are wrong or have a partial and skewed perception of reality.”

Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, said last month that Israel would not deny entry to US lawmakers “out of respect for the US Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America”.

Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, said the ban was “a sad reversal and is deeply disappointing”.

Trump, a close ally of Netanyahu, has sought to make political support for the Jewish state – long a consensus foreign policy for both major US parties – into a partisan issue, painting Democrats as anti-Israel. He has claimed, without evidence, that Omar and Tlaib “hate Israel, they hate our own country.”

David Brinn, the managing editor of the rightwing Jerusalem Post, wrote that a ban would be “shortsighted and deeply flawed”. He wrote: “A quashed trip is only going to further deepen the divide between Democrats and Israel – moving moderate Democrats away from a positive view of the country – and raise the spectre that Israel is behaving in something less than a democratic fashion.”

Omar and Tlaib make up half of a group of progressive minority ethnic congresswomen nicknamed the Squad, against whom Trump has lashed out with racist slurs. The other two members are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley.

Tlaib was born in Michigan to Palestinian parents. Omar is naturalised US citizen who arrived as a child refugee from Somalia. The pair were the first Muslim women elected to congress.

  • Published in World

Venezuela Doesn't Fear the Threats of Imperialism, says Maduro

Venezuela doesn't fear the threats of imperialism and is prepared to resist and win, stated President Nicolás Maduro this Sunday, during an appearance at the World Day of Protest against the United States.

The U.S. government violates all the principles of international law, said the head of state in the capital's Plaza Simón Bolívar.

Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores, signed the document supporting the international campaign 'No More Trump', rejecting the recent unilateral and illegal measures of President Donald Trump.

'We call on the people to fight, to take action and raise banners. Venezuela must be respected,' he said.

He expressed his confidence in the people and affirmed that Venezuelans will not allow themselves to be humiliated by anyone, that they have prepared themselves morally and politically to exercise power for the sole and exclusive benefit of the Venezuelan people.

Referring to his decision to temporarily suspend talks with the opposition, he stressed that he continues to believe in sovereign, political and economic dialogue as the only way to resolve tensions, but on the basis of respect for Venezuelans and their Constitution.

He called for preserving unity and increasing production capacity in order to move forward and overcome the situation the country is facing due to Washington's punitive sanctions, which freeze state assets and threaten sanctions against those who negotiate with Venezuela.

He also instructed national authorities to improve the food protection system and stressed the need to guarantee peace and economic security, as well as the people's income.

He added that the White House uses the economic power of the dollar and U.S. banks to blackmail the world in order to impose world hegemony.

The huge mobilizations that took place throughout the country were the response of the people to the attacks by the United States against the South American nation, which intensified this week after Trump approved the blockade of Venezuelan assets in order to generate a change of regime in the country.

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U.S.A.: Trump and the Penultimate Massacres

Democratic candidates to the presidency of their party accused Donald Trump this Sunday for the massacres in Ohio and Texas.

That was the approach expressed by two analysts of the Associated Press (AP), Hunter Woodall and Hope Yen.

Their argument? That the repeated attacks of Trump against minorities had stirred up racial discrimination and violence.

In the course of public acts and television shows, they highlighted the need, among other things, of establishing more limitations to carrying weapons, revisions to their owners and their backgrounds.

But they concentrated almost all their fire on Trump, trying to tie him to the shootings that took place in Dayton and El Paso, where almost 30 people were killed, after months of presidential rhetoric against people from the black community and migrants of the same race.

“There’s a complicity in the president's hatred that undermines the kindness and decency of North Americans regardless of their party", said Cory Booker, senator for New Jersey.

"Keeping silence at times when hatred increases, it’s insufficient to say 'I am not a promoter of hatred.'

"If you don't actively work to fight hatred, to denounce it, you are accomplice of what is happening."

The mayor of South Bend, Pete Buttigieg, said that to fight the terrorism of white nationalists would be shameful for a president who, "to begin with, helped to stir many of these feelings in the country."

Next he remarked, "at best, it condones and encourages white" nationalism.

Senator Kamala Harris, of California, also split some responsibility over the language of Trump that imposes “incredible consequences”.

Kamala highlighted: “We have a president of the United States who has chosen to use his words in a way that it promotes hatred and division among us."

Five minutes later, the Las Vegas lawyer attended a religious ceremony in a church of Las Vegas.

At the same time funeral honors were organized for those killed in that territory, famous for its many casinos.

Meanwhile, the new tragedy confirmed even more the extent in power in the United States of its true owners. Also the hypocrisy of many of the politicians to serve them.

Trump Says Kim Apologized for Previous Missile Tests, Though North Korea Launched More Missles Hours Later

On Saturday morning, President Donald Trump celebrated a letter he claims to have received from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un indicating a possible desire to meet after the U.S. is finished conducting joint military exercises with South Korea.

Trump wrote in a tweet that Kim "very nicely" said in a letter that he "would like to meet" once the drills were finished. The joint exercises between U.S. servicemembers in the region and South Korean forces began on Monday but were reportedly less conspicuous than past drills, occurring mainly through tactical simulations.

South Korean media reported early Saturday that North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, the country's latest act of defiance in protest of the drills, which the country has always objected to.

The president wrote that Kim's letter included "a small apology for testing short range missiles" and a promise that these tests would stop once the exercises were concluded. Trump first announced the letter on Friday, only to have Kim follow up on his apologies with Saturday's missile launches.

Saturday's tweet did not appear to reference the latest round of missile launches, despite the notation of Kim's alleged "apology" just the day prior for previous tests.

In a rebuke to the military, Trump's tweet derided the "ridiculous and very expensive exercises," which are conducted annually between U.S. and South Korean forces on the Peninsula as a show of strength, to prepare troops for a possible escalation of conflict and to deter aggression from the north.

South Korean military leaders said that they were "monitoring the situation in case of additional launches while maintaining a readiness posture."

Saturday's provocations mark the fifth series of missile tests in two weeks times. Kim has called the tests a "solemn warning" to the U.S. over the joint exercises.

Trump and Kim met most recently at the border between South Korea and North Korea, the third such summit between the pair and the first time a sitting U.S. president has crossed the Demilitarized Zone into North Korea.

Talks about Kim's nuclear program were reportedly set to resume following the meeting on June 30, but no known guarantees or agreements have been reported.

On Friday, Trump appeared to sympathize with the North Korean position on the joint exercises.

"He wasn't happy with the war games," he said. "I've never liked it either. I've never been a fan. And you know why? I don't like paying for it."

Saturday's tweet included a suggestion, though lacking a specific commitment, that the two leaders would meet once more to resolve longstanding nuclear tensions.

"I look forward to seeing Kim Jong Un in the not too distant future," Trump wrote. "A nuclear free North Korea will lead to one of the most successful countries in the world!"

  • Published in Sports

Magazine says Trump invited Iranian foreign minister to White House

President Donald Trump invited Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the White House last month at the height of tensions between the two countries, The New Yorker magazine reported.

The invitation, extended by Sen. Rand Paul with permission from the president, was turned down for now, The New Yorker reported Friday. Zarif said it was up to Tehran to decide on accepting it.

Neither the White House nor the State Department responded to requests for comment on the report, which quoted U.S. and Iranian sources and what the magazine called a well-placed diplomat.

Zarif told the magazine he would not want a White House meeting that yielded just a photo op and a two page statement afterwards, The New Yorker said.

Trump has said publicly several times that he is willing to hold talks with the Iranians even as he lambasts Tehran as a corrupt, incompetent and dangerous regime that is a threat to regional security and U.S. interests.

Last year Trump pulled the U.S. out of an international accord designed to curb Iran’s nuclear program, and has reimposed sanctions on Iran — and even slapped them on Zarif this past week — in an effort to force it to renegotiate the agreement.

Rand had been working for weeks on setting up a meeting with Zarif and on July 15 conferred with him in New York, passing on an invitation from Trump for him to come to the White House, the magazine said.

At the one-hour meeting with Rand, Zarif suggested ways to end the nuclear impasse and address Trump’s concerns, The New Yorker said.

Tensions soared in the Persian Gulf in June and July amid attacks on oil tankers, Iran’s downing of an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone and after the U.S. said it had downed an Iranian drone.

Trump has said the attack against the U.S. drone prompted him to order a military strike in response, only to call it off at the last minute.

  • Published in World
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