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Vox Sentences: You can’t hang a “closed” sign on the border

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Trump threatens to cut about $500 million in aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador; a comedian actor from Ukraine might just become president.

Trump cuts aid for Northern Triangle

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
  • The State Department announced on Friday it would end about $500 million in aid for Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador — a move to punish those governments for failing to address the large number of migrants heading to the United States. [The Washington Post / Mary Beth Sheridan and Kevin Sieff]
  • President Donald Trump has threatened to cut aid for these countries in the past. On December 28, 2018, he tweeted that they were “doing nothing for the United States but taking our money.” [Twitter / Donald J. Trump]
  • Democrats have criticized Trump for further destabilizing these countries and making the migration process even more difficult, especially for vulnerable groups like children. [NBC News / Phil Helsel, Abigail Williams, and Kelly O’Donnell]
  • Many Congress members believe the aid is crucial in fixing the root causes of migration, such as poverty and violence. Without it, they predict the number of migrants will only increase. [NYT / Katie Rogers, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, and Michael D. Shear]
  • Trump is also making enemies out of people whose help he needs the most to address the flow of migrants: the governments of Central American countries. It is unclear how the cuts will affect these governments’ cooperation with the United States when it comes to “joint policing agreements” needed to crack down on migration. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • This isn’t the only threat Trump is making on immigration, either. His most recent warning from Saturday: He might close the southern border if Mexico continues to allow a large flow of illegal migrants into the United States. [Politico / Rebecca Morin]
  • Closing the border can’t stop people from seeking asylum in the US. All it could do is slow down the legal movement of people and goods across borders. [Vox / Dara Lind]

Ukraine elections: comedian secures first-round win

  • A comedian who played the role of president in a popular TV show is now running to actually be the president in Ukraine. His name is Volodymyr Zelensky, and he just won the first round of votes in the country’s elections. [CNBC / Sam Meredith]
  • Zelensky vows to fight corruption by enacting reforms, to make Ukraine “prosperous,” and to bring peace to the war with pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east. “You don’t need experience to be president, you just need to be a decent human being” became Zelensky’s mantra. [NBC News / Yuliya Talmazan]
  • This is the first presidential election in Ukraine since 2014, when Russian troops annexed Crimea and fueled a separatist conflict in the country. At least 13,000 people have died over the past five years. [CNN / Nathan Hodge and Anna-Maja Rappard and Jack Guy]
  • Zelensky, on his TV show, plays a teacher who becomes president unexpectedly after fighting corruption. He’s even named his party after the long-running TV show The Servant of the People. [The New York Times / Iuliia Mendel and Neil MacFarquhar]
  • Zelensky’s campaign has a laid-back style. However, critics worry that he does not take policy seriously. His statements tend to be vague, without a clear idea of what he is actually going to do if he wins the elections. The current president sees Zelensky as a reckless candidate at a time when the country is still facing a Russian-separatist conflict. [Reuters / Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets]


  • A 19-year-old man, Omarian Banks, was shot in Georgia for knocking on the wrong door, police say. [USA Today / N’dea Yancey-Bragg]
  • The death toll from a recent chemical plant explosion in China has risen to 78; 56 of them were identified. Many safety violations have been exposed in the chemical plants, and people want stronger regulations as these incidents happen more often. [South China Morning Post / William Zheng]
  • Italy might scrap a requirement to provide a vaccine certificate for children before entering nurseries. Proponents say this would enable more children to be educated, but experts worry about the public health consequences. [The Guardian / Angela Giuffrida]
  • Thai opposition activists are protesting against alleged poll cheating in the country’s first elections since the 2014 coup. [Al Jazeera]


“Not only do all children everywhere have a right to a safe education and protection from all forms of violence and exploitation, but it is also essential for their mental and physical well-being.” [UNICEF Palestine special representative Genevieve Boutin on the arrest of children in schools by Israeli forces]

Watch this: Pete Buttigieg’s theory of political change

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has become a surprising standout in the 2020 Democratic field. He talked about the structural issues plaguing US politics, how being a mayor has prepared him for national office, and his vision for the country on this episode of The Ezra Klein Show. [Spotify / Ezra Klein]

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