U.S. restores some aid but vows no more without migrant action
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration said Monday it is easing previously announced cuts in hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Central American nations of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala but will not allow new funding until those countries do more to reduce migrant flows to the United States.
The State Department said that after a review of more than $615 million in assistance that President Donald Trump ordered in March to be cut entirely, it would go ahead with $432 million in projects and grants that had been previously approved. The remaining amount will be held in escrow pending consultations with Congress, it said.
That $432 million, which comes from the 2017 budget, is being spent on health, education and poverty alleviation programs as well as anti-crime efforts that many believe help reduce migrant outflows from the impoverished Northern Triangle region. About $370 million in money from the 2018 budget will not be spent and instead will be moved to other projects, the State Department said.
“Previously awarded grants and contracts will continue with current funding,” department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said. She added that assistance “to help the Northern Triangle governments take actions that will protect the U.S. border and counter transnational organized crime will also continue.”
U.S. officials said the review looked at roughly 700 projects funded with fiscal 2017 money by the United States in the three countries and concluded that a significant number were too far advanced to end them.
Egypt’s ousted president Morsi dies in court during trial
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi, who was ousted by the military in 2013 after a year in office, collapsed in court while on trial Monday and died, state TV and his family said.
The 67-year-old Morsi had just addressed the court, speaking from the glass cage he is kept in during sessions and warning that he had “many secrets” he could reveal, a judicial official said. A few minutes afterward, he collapsed in the cage, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.
In his final comments, he continued to insist he was Egypt’s legitimate president, demanding a special tribunal, one of his defense lawyers, Kamel Madour told the Associated Press. State TV said Morsi died before he could be taken to the hospital.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood accused the government of “assassinating” him through years of poor prison conditions. Morsi, who was known to have diabetes, had been imprisoned since his 2013 ouster, often in solitary confinement and barred from visitors — his family was allowed to visit only three times during that time. Egypt’s chief prosecutor said Morsi’s body would be examined to determine the cause of his death.
It was a dramatic end for a figure who was central in the twists and turns taken by Egypt since its “revolution” — from the pro-democracy uprising that in 2011 ousted the country’s longtime authoritarian leader, Hosni Mubarak, through controversial Islamist rule and now back to a tight grip under the domination of military men.
Blackout in South America raises questions about power grid
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — The huge blackout that left tens of millions of people in the dark in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay over the weekend raised serious questions about the vulnerability of the power grid in South America and brought criticism down on Argentina’s leader.
President Mauricio Macri promised a thorough investigation into the cause of what he called an unprecedented outage. Energy officials said the findings would not be available for 10 to 15 days, and they had no immediate estimate of the economic damage from Sunday’s 14-hour power failure.
“This is an extraordinary event that should have never happened,” said Argentine Energy Secretary Gustavo Lopetegui. “It’s very serious. We can’t leave the whole country all of a sudden without electricity.”
He vowed: “There is zero chance that this will repeat itself. It can’t repeat itself.”
While the precise cause has yet to be established, the blackout originated at a transmission point between two power stations in the country’s northeast “when the system was getting too much power,” Lopetegui said. A chain of events then caused a total disruption, he said.