News by Professionals 4 Professionals


Trump’s Budget Cuts Deeply Into Medicaid and Anti-Poverty Efforts

The plan would cut by more than $72 billion the disability benefits upon which millions of Americans rely. It would eliminate loan programs that subsidize college education for the poor and those who take jobs in government or nonprofit organizations.

Continue reading the main story[1]

Mr. Trump s advisers portrayed the steep reductions as necessary to balance the nation s budget while sparing taxpayers from shouldering the burden of programs that do not work well.

This is, I think, the first time in a long time that an administration has written a budget through the eyes of the people who are actually paying the taxes, said Mick Mulvaney, Mr. Trump s budget director.

Trump's Budget Cuts Deeply Into Medicaid And Anti-Poverty Efforts

OPEN Document

Document: Read Trump’s 2018 Budget

We re not going to measure our success by how much money we spend, but by how many people we actually help, Mr. Mulvaney said as he outlined the proposal at the White House on Monday before its formal presentation on Tuesday to Congress.

Continue reading the main story[2]

Among its innovations: Mr. Trump proposes saving $40 billion over a decade by barring undocumented immigrants from collecting the child and dependent care tax credit. He has also requested $19 billion over 10 years for a new program, spearheaded by his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump, to provide six weeks of paid leave to new parents. The budget also includes a broad prohibition against money for entities that provide abortions, including Planned Parenthood, blocking them from receiving any federal health funding

Continue reading the main story[3]

The release of the document, an annual ritual in Washington that usually constitutes a marquee event for a new president working to promote his vision, unfolded under unusual circumstances. Mr. Trump is out of the country[4] for his first foreign trip, and his administration is enduring a near-daily drumbeat of revelations about the investigation into his campaign s possible links with Russia.

Continue reading the main story[5]

The president s absence, which his aides dismissed as a mere coincidence of the calendar, seemed to highlight the haphazard way in which his White House has approached its dealings with Congress. It is just as much a sign of Mr. Trump s lack of enthusiasm for the policy detail and message discipline that is required to marshal support to enact politically challenging changes.

If the president is distancing himself from the budget, why on earth would Republicans rally around tough choices that would have to be made? said Robert L. Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan organization that promotes deficit reduction. If you want to make the political case for the budget and the budget is ultimately a political document you really need the president to do it. So, it does seem bizarre that the president is out of the country.

The president s annual budget more a message document than a practical set of marching orders even in the best of times routinely faces challenges on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers jealously guard their prerogative to control federal spending and shape government programs. But Mr. Trump s wish list, in particular, faces long odds, with Democrats uniformly opposed and Republicans already showing themselves to be squeamish about some of the president s plans.

Continue reading the main story[6]

It probably is the most conservative budget that we ve had under Republican or Democrat administrations in decades, said Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Photo Trump's Budget Cuts Deeply Into Medicaid And Anti-Poverty Efforts Workers prepared copies of the 2018 budget after publishing last week in Washington. Credit Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

But in a signal that some proposed cuts to domestic programs are likely to face resistance even from conservatives, Mr. Meadows said he could not stomach the idea of doing away with food assistance for older Americans.

Continue reading the main story[7]

Meals on Wheels, even for some of us who are considered to be fiscal hawks, may be a bridge too far, Mr. Meadows said.

Continue reading the main story[8]

Republicans balked at Mr. Trump s demand for money for the border wall in negotiations over a spending package enacted last month. Many were deeply conflicted over voting for a health care overhaul[9] measure that included the Medicaid cuts contained in the budget to be presented on Tuesday. Now the president is proposing still deeper reductions to the federal health program for the poor, as well as drastically scaling back a broad array of social safety net programs that are certain to be unpopular with lawmakers.

The politics of this make no sense to me whatsoever, in the sense that the population that brought them to the dance are the populists out there in the Midwest and South who rely on these programs that he s talking about reducing, said G. William Hoagland, a former senior Republican congressional budget aide. Referring to Representative Paul D. Ryan, he said: I don t see how Speaker Ryan gets anywhere close to 218 votes in the House of Representatives if this is the model. It s an exercise in futility.

Continue reading the main story[10]

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said Monday that the Medicaid cuts would carry a staggering human cost and violate Mr. Trump s campaign promise to address the opioid epidemic.

Based on what we know about this budget, the good news the only good news is that it was likely to be roundly rejected by members of both parties here in the Senate, just as the last budget was, Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor.

Continue reading the main story[11]

The budget itself avoids some of the tough choices that would be required to enact Mr. Trump s fiscal vision. The huge tax cut was presented but without any detail about its elements or cost. Mr. Mulvaney said the tax plan would not add to the deficit, implying that its cost would be made up with other changes, such as eliminating deductions.

To balance the budget, Mr. Trump s budget relies on growth he argues will be generated from the as-yet-unformed tax cut.

Continue reading the main story[12]

The blueprint also steers clear of changing Social Security s retirement program or Medicare, steps that Mr. Mulvaney, a former South Carolina congressman who has backed entitlement cuts, said he had tried to persuade Mr. Trump to consider.

Continue reading the main story[13]

He said, I promised people on the campaign trail I would not touch their retirement and I would not touch Medicare, and we don t do it, Mr. Mulvaney said. I honestly was surprised that we could balance the budget without changing those programs, but we managed to do that.

Continue reading the main story[14]

But budget experts argued that was little more than fiction, and the plan could never deliver the results it claims to.

The central inconsistency is promoting a massive tax cut and spending increases in some areas and leaving the major entitlement programs alone, Mr. Bixby said. You don t have to be an economist to know that that doesn t add up, and that s why there s a great deal of concern about the negative fiscal impact that this budget will have.

Continue reading the main story[15]

While past presidents have often launched a road show with stops around the country to promote the components of their inaugural budgets, Mr. Trump is spending the rest of the week overseas, leaving his staff to explain his plan while Republicans prepare their own response.

This budget is dead before arrival, so he might as well be out of town, said David A. Stockman, a former budget director under President Ronald Reagan.

Mr. Stockman said both political parties had grown comfortable with running large annual budget deficits. There s not a snowball s chance that most of this deep deficit reduction will even be considered in a serious way.

Correction: May 23, 2017

An earlier version of this article, using information from Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, misstated a proposal to bar undocumented immigrants from receiving certain tax credits. The proposal would add this requirement for the Child and Dependent Care Credit. A Social Security number is already required to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Continue reading the main story[16]


  1. ^ Continue reading the main story (
  2. ^ Continue reading the main story (
  3. ^ Continue reading the main story (
  4. ^ out of the country (
  5. ^ Continue reading the main story (
  6. ^ Continue reading the main story (
  7. ^ Continue reading the main story (
  8. ^ Continue reading the main story (
  9. ^ Recent and archival news about healthcare reform. (
  10. ^ Continue reading the main story (
  11. ^ Continue reading the main story (
  12. ^ Continue reading the main story (
  13. ^ Continue reading the main story (
  14. ^ Continue reading the main story (
  15. ^ Continue reading the main story (
  16. ^ Continue reading the main story (

A new secret runway found in Laguna del Tigre National Park in Guatemala

  • Such clandestine landing strips are often built in forest reserves by people who claim to be cattle ranchers, but are actually working for drug traffickers.
  • These illegal structures pose a threat to the Laguna del Tigre National Park.
  • What does the head of Guatemala s anti-drug unit think about this new secret runway that has just been discovered?

(This is a collaborative article by Mongabay Latam[1] and Plaza P blica[2], a Guatemalan investigative news outlet)

On the 26th of April, two reporters flew over the Laguna del Tigre National Park, located in the San Andr s municipality in the department of Pet n, intending to monitor fires that were devastating the protected area. Whilst up in the air, the plane flew over the Xan oil field, which has been in operation for the Franco-British company Perenco since 2001. It was here that the industrial plant, chimneys and their large tarmac runway could be seen. They then continued to fly north when suddenly they spotted what was clearly a secret runway: a basic 1km strip that crossed a field and a bit of forest, and that started barely 25 meters from one of Perenco s oil wells, the Xan-30.

A New Secret Runway Found In Laguna Del Tigre National Park In GuatemalaBird s-eye view of the secret runway, located alongside the oil company Perenco s Xan-30 well. Photo by Manual Morillo.

The experienced pilot who flew over the area was in no doubt that this was a runway. He pointed out that its orientation was ideal given the prevailing winds. Afterwards, the captured photos were shown to Aldo Chapas, the head of the Guatemalan anti-drug unit. The public prosecutor confirmed that the strip matches up to a secret runway but in order to confirm it, there would need to be an investigation and the General Civil Aviation Authority would need to be consulted to see if the landing strip had authorisation.

When the head of Civil Aviation, Carlos Vel zquez Monge, was asked which runways within the Laguna del Tigre National Park have authorisation, it turned out that Perenco s tarmac runway is the only one. This supposed secret runway is a bit paradoxical: half way up the strip it goes into a small forest area. It s clear that there are trees on the edge of the strip. In talking with that pilot and the public prosecutor, there are two possible explanations: either the strip isn t yet finished and the owners haven t got round to removing all the vegetation, or this small clump of woodland serves to hide the light aircraft that land there. What s more, the cows that graze amongst the trees demonstrate that the plot of land has been occupied by someone who has invaded a protected area.

A New Secret Runway Found In Laguna Del Tigre National Park In GuatemalaCattle can be seen grazing at both sides of the secret runway. Photo by Manuel Morillo. A New Secret Runway Found In Laguna Del Tigre National Park In GuatemalaPerenco s airstrip. Photo by Manuel Morillo.

Two days after the flight, the journalists travelled to the Xan area and visited the Xan-30 well. Walking around, it was clear that there were only a few steps between the apparent secret runway and the fence surrounding the oil well. The strip is about four meters wide and the vegetation on either side has been burned, although some small pieces are beginning to sprout again. This could indicate that the fire, which struck the park two weeks before the visit, cleared a part of the landing area that was hidden among vegetation.

A New Secret Runway Found In Laguna Del Tigre National Park In GuatemalaSecret runway located alongside the oil company Perenco s Xan-30 well. Photo by Manual Morillo.

The Xan-30 well is situated 5km from the Perenco s focal area and 6km from a military detachment for jungle operations. The apparent secret runway is easy to get to, both the runway and the well are adjacent to the main road that runs through the Laguna del Tigre National Park. The dirt track road which is very well maintained connects those living in El Naranjo to the Xan field, and then continues towards Los Cerritos and La Paz, which are on the border with Mexico. Once in the oil-production area, signs lead the way to well 30. During the visit, journalists chatted with one of Perenco s technicians who, alongside a security officer from the company Visersa, carried out routine checks on the other Xan wells. The technician explained that all 46 Xan wells were checked every day.

A New Secret Runway Found In Laguna Del Tigre National Park In GuatemalaThe Laguna del Tigre National Park s main road runs adjacent to the secret runway and the Xan-30 well. Photo by Manuel Morillo.

Perenco documents show that Xan-30 is an active injection well, in which the oil tanker reintroduces the acid water produced by oil extraction into the subsoil. Perenco executives were asked if they knew about the existence of runway. The director of corporate cross-border affairs, Antonio Minondo Ayau, responded in an email: We had no knowledge of the existence of the runway you re talking about.

It was also asked if the company knows any of the people who had occupied the land surrounding the well. No, we do not know the identities of those who live on the land surrounding the Xan-30 well, was the response from Minondo Ayau. He added: Perenco Guatemala on several occasions has denounced the existence of invasions and fires to the National Council for Protected Areas (CONAP).

A New Secret Runway Found In Laguna Del Tigre National Park In GuatemalaThe secret runway and Perenco s Xan-30 well from another angle. Photo by Manuel Morillo.

The Army s press executive, colonel William Garc a, stated that he was not up-to-date regarding the construction of a secret runway next to the Xan-30 well. He said that one of the tasks of the Army is to patrol the Laguna del Tigre in order to detect and destroy all such types of illegal infrastructures. He indicated that there are currently 65 runways in the park, 23 of which have been blown up.

Perenco in the department of Pet n

According to the public prosecutor, Aldo Chapas, the proximity of the Laguna del Tigre reserve to Mexico makes it a key place for drug traffickers, since their light aircrafts from South America can touch down there, and the drugs can then be brought into Mexico. During the flight over the park, another two secret runways were actually spotted. However, these were in remote areas such as Tri ngulo Candelaria, north of the Laguna del Tigre National Park, and not in any industrial areas that are strategically important for Guatemala, like the area in which Perenco operates, nor are they as close to a military detachment.

A New Secret Runway Found In Laguna Del Tigre National Park In GuatemalaPerenco s Xan-30 well. Photo by Manuel Morillo.

The public prosecutor, Aldo Chapas, stated: When a secret runway is discovered, it s assumed that it s used for drug trafficking. He also added that it can also be used for other illegal activities such as human trafficking, people smuggling and the smuggling of firearms or contraband. A report published in 2011 by the US organisation Insight Crime titled Grupos de Poder en Pet n: Territorio, pol tica y negocios[3] (Power Groups in Pet n: Territory, Politics and Deals) presented the role of Perenco in the network of forces and alliances that are in Pet n, and in the Laguna del Tigre National Park in particular. According to the , the transnational company, alongside Manuel Baldiz n, Manuel Barqu n, Juli n Tesuc n, Javier L pez (all local leaders from the Conservative Patriotic and Unionist Parties) and the Mendoza family, who are linked to organised crime in Guatemala (drug trafficking, land grabbing and murders), are the sometimes-rival, sometimes-allied forces that occupy the area.

A New Secret Runway Found In Laguna Del Tigre National Park In GuatemalaBird s-eye view of Perenco s industrial site. Photo by Manuel Morillo.

In this amalgam of interests, the company Perenco plays a central role and may continue to do so depending on its executive and legislative support, the backing (real or otherwise) of the communities that live in the area and cohabitation with criminal groups who have already taken over substantial pieces of land within the protected area, stated the report from 2011.

In the presence of the military detachment that guards the entrance to the Xan oil field, there is a gate and a control station run by the National Council for Protected Areas (CONAP) and the Army. When the group of journalists were passing through these controls, the authorities had just stopped a pick-up truck carrying a group of people from the countryside. They were ordered to get out of the truck and line up. Under the watchful eye of the soldiers and CONAP park rangers, they had to open their rucksacks, empty them and lay out all of their belongings on the white dust of the road. From their forbearing expression and from the testimonies of several of the locals, it s clear that these kinds of checks are part of their daily routine.

A New Secret Runway Found In Laguna Del Tigre National Park In GuatemalaSoldiers form the military detachment located at the entrance to the Xan oil field search the belongings of a group of locals. Photo by Manuel Morillo.

15 minutes away from this check point, as if it were no big deal, there is a secret runway right next to an oil well.

A New Secret Runway Found In Laguna Del Tigre National Park In GuatemalaA satellite image taken on 4th May 2017 shows the secret runway. Image courtesy of Planet Labs.

Article published by

How a dashing bodyguard is stealing the new South Korean president’s limelight

Newly elected South Korean president Moon Jae-in has lived up to his promise to shake up the country s politics, but perhaps not in the way that he expected.

In his first few days in office, Mr Moon s dashing close protection officer, Choi Young-jae, appears to have stolen the limelight, sending social media into a frenzy with the best smouldering bodyguard poses since Kevin Costner swept Whitney Houston off her feet in the 1990s Hollywood classic[1].

Photos of the 36-year-old square-jawed bodyguard, dressed in a sharp suit and staring into the crowd with a stern but sultry menace, have gone viral.

How A Dashing Bodyguard Is Stealing The New South Korean President's Limelight

Choi Young-jae, left, protecting newly-elected president Moon Jae-in, centre Credit: Reuters

Popular blog,[2], stoked further excitement by publishing a series of photographs of Mr Choi keeping a close watch for potential threats.

He even has good skin, Is this a scene from a movie? gushed enthused netizens.

excuse me this is the new korean president’s bodyguard[3]

elena yip (@elena_yip) 12 May 2017[4]

After a year-long political corruption saga that scandalised the country and saw the impeachment of former president Park Geun-hye[5], South Koreans have seized on the sizzling sightings of Mr Choi as welcome light relief.

@the_beccaeller @elena_yip Oh Lordy![6][7][8]

I am Groot (@Other_Girl) 12 May 2017[9]

The South Korean media lauded him as a leading member of what they coined the handsome brigade of officials who have been selected as the attractive face of the new administration.

How A Dashing Bodyguard Is Stealing The New South Korean President's Limelight

Moon Jae-in photographed during his military service as a Special Forces soldier Credit: Reuters

President Moon himself set hearts racing in his younger days, reported the Korea Time[10]s, adding that Im Jong-seok, his new chief of staff, was a pin-up for female students who stole his campaign posters when he once ran for school president.

How A Dashing Bodyguard Is Stealing The New South Korean President's Limelight

South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-In, right, with his chief of staff Im Jong-Seok Credit: AFP

Civil affairs secretary, Cho Kuk, also a member of the good-looking new crew, confessed that dairy drinks were constantly placed on his library seat at university by female admirers.

@elena_yip[11] he looks like the square-jawed serious romantic lead, who’s going to be his plucky heroine who accidentally captures his heart…

Yulin Kuang (@YulinKuang) 12 May 2017[12]

President Moon s office have, however, torched any hopes of female fans wishing to become the heroine in a South Korean remake of Costner s The Bodyguard, confirming that Mr Choi is unfortunately married.

Profile | Moon Jae-in[13]


  1. ^ Kevin Costner swept Whitney Houston off her feet in the 1990s Hollywood classic (
  2. ^ (
  3. ^ (
  4. ^ 12 May 2017 (
  5. ^ impeachment of former president Park Geun-hye (
  6. ^ @the_beccaeller (
  7. ^ @elena_yip (
  8. ^ (
  9. ^ 12 May 2017 (
  10. ^ Korea Time (
  11. ^ @elena_yip (
  12. ^ 12 May 2017 (
  13. ^ Profile | Moon Jae-in (
1 2 3 52