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Illustration: Sarah Grillo

The Trump administration has nixed Major League Baseball's historic agreement with the Cuban Baseball Federation (CBF) that would have made it easier for Cuban players to enter the U.S. legally without needing to defect.

Why it matters: The goal of this deal was to help end the dangerous trafficking of Cuban players that has gone on for decades, resulting in players being threatened, extorted or even kidnapped.

  • Take Yasiel Puig, for example: After helping Puig escape Cuba, traffickers affiliated with a notorious Mexican drug cartel held him for ransom on a small island for weeks. Go deeper, it's nuts.
  • More horror stories: White Sox slugger José Abreu had to eat his fake passport on his flight to the U.S., and Indians outfielder Leonys Martin was kidnapped.

Details: The agreement is similar to the ones MLB has with Japan, Korea and China and dates back to the Obama administration's détente with Cuba, which intended to soften relations between our two nations.

  • But the White House argued Monday that the CBF is part of the Cuban government and that the agreement, therefore, violates U.S. trade law since MLB would be paying a fee in exchange for each player.

The big picture: This reversal comes amid a crackdown on what the Trump administration calls the "Troika of Tyranny" — Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

  • The White House has tightened the economic embargo on Cuba and criticized its government for supporting Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro. This deal would have legitimized the Cuban regime, so they squashed it.

The bottom line: A geopolitical war is being waged — and sadly, young baseball players with dreams of a better life are the collateral damage.

Go deeper

54 mins ago - Health

Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot"

The government's top infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci said Friday that he "absolutely" will accept the offer from President-elect Joe Biden to serve as his chief medical adviser, telling NBC's "Today" that he said yes "right on the spot."

Why it matters: President Trump had a contentious relationship with Fauci, who has been forced during the pandemic to correct many of the president's false claims about the coronavirus. Biden, meanwhile, has emphasized the importance of "listening to the scientists" throughout his campaign and transition.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Highlights from Biden and Harris' first joint interview since the election

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sat down with CNN on Thursday for their first joint interview since the election.

The big picture: In the hour-long segment, the twosome laid out plans for responding to the pandemic, jump-starting the economy and managing the transition of power, among other priorities.

The quick FCC fix that would get more students online

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the pandemic forces students out of school, broadband deployment programs aren't going to move fast enough to help families in immediate need of better internet access. But Democrats at the Federal Communications Commission say the incoming Biden administration could put a dent in that digital divide with one fast policy change.

State of play: An existing FCC program known as E-rate provides up to $4 billion for broadband at schools, but Republican FCC chairman Ajit Pai has resisted modifying the program during the pandemic to provide help connecting students at home.