Things That Matter

AOC Called Out Rep. Steve King For Willfully Risking Pink Eye Instead Of Admitting Migrants Deserve Better Treatment

The migrant detention sanitary debate has reached new depths this week when Iowa Rep. Steve King (R) tweeted a video of himself drinking water out of water fountain attached to a toilet at a migrant detention center. In the tweet, King accused Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of lying to spin “#FakeNews” about the border in order to create “click bait for Snowflakes!” You bet AOC fired back.

In case you forgot, earlier this summer, members of Congress, including AOC, toured migrant facilities in El Paso and Clint, Texas. Every member of Congress that visited the centers recalled the story of one woman who was told by an agent to drink water out of the toilet when the faucet stopped working. Rep. Ayanna Pressley even tried to open the faucet, and fiddle with it to make it function, but it simply wouldn’t work.

Rep. Steve King told a town hall meeting that he actually visited the facility and filmed himself drinking from a toilet fountain at a migrant facility and it was “actually pretty good.”

Credit: @SteveKingIA / Twitter

In the video, Rep. King is seen taking a sip from the fountain, pulling away for a couple of seconds, and going back in to finish drinking the water. Then, he swishes it around his mouth, swallows, snaps his fingers and blurts, “Not bad.”

Maura Barrett of NBC reports that Rep. King told the town hall this story: “I actually went into that cell where it was reported that they were advised they had to drink out of the toilet. I took a drink out of there. And actually pretty good! So I have a videotape and I smacked my lips, but I didn’t send it out because I thought, ‘You know, this subject just needs to go into the rearview mirror.’ Why do I bring it up now, you ask? That was a little personal experience.”

Then he started referring to migrants as “inmates” in a “prison,” that necessitate “semi indestructible” toilets.

“There’s these toilets in these prisons, are stainless steel,” he went on to say in the same report. “They’re built so that they are semi indestructible by the inmates that are there. And in the back where the lid would be on our toilet, that’s also sealed.” According to King’s understanding, “There’s a water fountain there, you push the button, the water comes out and you take a drink. It’s how it is. It’s not drinking out of the toilet, it’s drinking out of the water fountain that’s integral with the back of the toilet. But I think there was a little language barrier there and so that’s how come we got that misinformation.”

After King effectively called AOC a liar, AOC mocked what she sees as King’s proof of arrogance on the issue.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

“There is a genre of videos where GOP House members – who clearly didn’t read sworn testimony that detention sinks were broken – filming themselves drinking out of toilet sinks,” she tweeted back. “They’re so anti-immigrant they risk pink eye to show off that they didn’t do the reading. #CloseTheCamps.”

Meanwhile, the rest of Twitter is like, “que que?”

Credit: @donmoyn / Twitter

“That’s not where the water, the women were told to drink, was” tweeted  @iTibbi. “In their cell, the sink above the toilet was broken. They were told to drink the water in the toilet. What he does in that video mocks those women and the conditions they were put in. Never expect better from him.” Steve King is making zero points when he drinks out of a functioning water fountain because that was never the challenge posited to the detained women. Officers told the women to drink from the toilet bowl when the fountain stopped working. 

King was removed from the only committee assignment he ever held after he questioned why being called a “white nationalist” or “white supremacist” was so offensive.

Credit: @SteveKingIA / Twitter

In an interview with The Times Steve King actually said: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” While President Trump never condemned King’s statement, Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell suggested “another line of work” was in King’s future. King never apologized or offered another opinion on white supremacy, and simply said he was misunderstood. 

One Twitter user rightly asked, “Wait, how could he get a tour but not members of the House Oversight Committee? Steve King literally sits on no committees; there is no reason for him to review migrant facilities.”

READ: Racist Congressman on National Television: What Have Non-White People Ever Done For Civilization?

US Immigration Policy Is Causing Scenes Like This One: A Refugee Camp Facing A Severe Humanitarian Crisis

Things That Matter

US Immigration Policy Is Causing Scenes Like This One: A Refugee Camp Facing A Severe Humanitarian Crisis

LorenElliottPhoto / Instagram

We wish we were writing to tell you that the border camps are closing down. Or at least being investigated as part of the impeachment proceedings. But no, we’re yet to see any official scrutiny into the border camps and their operation. In fact, we’re here to tell you that not only is the US operating these camps and subjecting migrants to some horrific conditions, but Mexico now has some well-established border camps, too.

The main border camp in Mexico is based in Matamoros.

Credit: Erin.sheridan / Instagram

Reports peg the population of Matamoros at 2,000 migrants. As for the conditions at the camp, well. They are, let’s be honest, squalid at best. Some asylum-seekers are stuck living in tents and tarpaulins, while other sleep in bushes, or just on the streets. It’s common to see asylum seekers bathing in the Rio Grande, which carries its own set of health risks – given that it is known to be contaminated with E.Coli and other unfriendly bacteria. “This is a temporary camp, so nobody is putting infrastructure. There’s no running water … no proper sanitation. There’s no way to wash your hands after you’ve used the washrooms, which are absolutely indescribable,” said the director of Amnesty International UK, Kate Allen, in a recent interview.

Health-wise, the camp is a breeding ground for disease.

Doctors Without Borders said that in a three-week period last month, it completed 178 consultations for things such as hypertension, diabetes, diarrhoea, asthma and a bunch of psychiatric conditions. Over 50 percent of these patients were just children. And sure, health issues are just one of many problems with staying at the camp. Matamoros is known to also have its own issues with the cartels, meaning that refugees make the perfect targets for violence and sexual assaults. 

Even though this is all happening in Mexico, the core of the problem lies with US immigration policy.

Credit: noticiastelemundo / Instagram

In order to solve the immigration issues happening right before our eyes, we have to first acknowledge the ways in which policy influences the situation. These migrants who are stuck in a hellish limbo in Mexico are suffering the consequences of the Trump administration’s attitudes towards asylum seekers. We’re seeing this not only in the impending Supreme Court judgment that may end the DACA program, but also the shift towards making migrants wait in a “safe third country” for their asylum applications to process.

It’s this very policy that has created what is essentially an international queue of people desperately seeking refuge from violence and natural disasters. The camp at Matamoros is a symptom of much broader issues: applications for asylum in the US need to be processed faster – and refugees should not have to literally live outside until their applications are processed.

Some experts compare the conditions to those found in massive refugee camps of Africa.

Credit: uninoticias / Instagram

The most stark commentary around the issue has come from Amnesty International Kenya’s executive director, Iruũgũ Houghton. “I’ve been in one of the world’s biggest camps and that’s the Dadaab camp, which is at the northern border of Kenya with Somalia and every time I’m in that space my blood boils. It really just gets to me, the level of injustice and it feels like that [in Matamoros],” said Houghton in an interview with TPR. He also pointed out that Kenya is currently playing host to 468,000 refugees – while the US, a much bigger country with considerably more wealth, has capped their refugee intake to just 18,000 people annually. Sí, amigas, none of this looks good on the international stage.

Unfortunately, this border camp business doesn’t stop at Matamoros, either.

Credit: lorenelliottphoto / Instagram

And no, we’re not talking about the detention centers on the US-side of the border. The migrant population is getting too big for Mexican officials to handle at Matamoros, and so they have launched a new initiative to try to get camp dwellers to move elsewhere. However, the authorities are having a hard time trying to get them to move. So much so, they have threatened to use child protection services to separate migrant families within Mexico, arguing that the current conditions in the Matamoros camp were no place for a child to live. Someone call a doctor: our eyes are rolling so far back in our heads, we’re in danger of losing them altogether.

The government is constructing a new facility nearby but it too will be too small to handle the growing crisis.

Credit: peoplelivehere.press / Instagram

While the new migrant shelter – a converted gymnasium – can house about 300, and is decidedly much more comfortable with its luxury of an actual roof, the migrants at Matamoros are unconvinced. The resounding fear is that, once away from Matamoros, the refugees will not have the same ease of access to aid workers, relief packages, and legal services. Whether those fears are unfounded or not remains to be seen.

AOC Takes to Twitter to Defend Taylor Swift Against Greedy Music Execs Trying to Keep Her From Using Her Own Music

Entertainment

AOC Takes to Twitter to Defend Taylor Swift Against Greedy Music Execs Trying to Keep Her From Using Her Own Music

@mayadejendela / Twitter

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has used her short career to be a champion of many worthy causes. Before she even entered the political arena, she visited embattled communities like Standing Rock and Flint, Michigan in order to learn more about the environmental crises taking place. She’s since turned that environmentalism into support for the Green New Deal, a legislation that aims to address climate change and economic inequality. AOC has also been a vocal opponent of the Trump administration’s border wall and their oppressive take on immigration. On top of these important causes, the representative from New York is a great advocate for women’s rights. 

It’s with this advocacy in mind that AOC took to Twitter on Friday evening to tweet her support for Taylor Swift during the artist’s latest professional battle. 

Twitter / @taylorswift13

The defense comes from a Thursday evening tweet from Swift. In the tweet, the musician shares that, though she is being named “Artist of the Decade” by the American Music Awards, there’s a damper to her happy news. According to Swift, issues with Big Machine Records’ music executives were keeping her from being able to have access to all of the songs previous to her latest album, “Lover.” 

The two execs, Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun, own the masters to Swift’s earlier works and, as such, can control whether or not to she’s allowed to use them. According to the deal she signed with Republic Records and Universal Music Group in 2018, Swift is not allowed to re-record her earlier songs until 2020. It’s important to note that neither of these men had anything to do with the creation of these songs.

“I’ve been planning to perform a medley of my hits throughout the decade on the show,” the tweet read. “Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun have now said that I’m not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that they would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year.”

Additionally, Swift explained that she had an upcoming documentary about her life in the works with Netflix. 

Twitter / @THR

Just like with the American Music Awards, the musician shared that the executives were again refusing to allow her to use old clips of her performances or any new renditions of these old songs. The note went on to request that fans let Braun and Borchetta know that they’re Team Taylor all the way.

Borchetta reportedly told Swift’s team that she could in fact use these earlier songs on two conditions. One, the musician would loose the right to re-record these songs for the year of 2020. The second condition was that Swift had to stop publicly discussing Braun and Borchetta. 

This is when AOC got into the mix with her response to Swift’s tweet. 

Twitter / @AOC

A longstanding opponent of major corporations, the representative likened the situation with Swift’s music rights to private equity groups. AOC responded to the music controversy with a call to action demanding that the music executives be “reigned in.”

“Private equity groups’ predatory practices actively hurt millions of Americans,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “Their leveraged buyouts have destroyed the lives of retail workers across the country, scrapping 1+ million jobs. Now, they’re holding Taylor Swift’s own music hostage.”

If you’re thinking that AOC’s support is proof that she’s a closet Swiftie, it’s actually much deeper than that.

Twitter / @AOC

Since AOC is a champion for middle and low income America, it might seem unexpected for her to back Swift who is a multimillionaire. However, the musician’s problem is one that the representative has been fighting against. As Ocasio-Cortez explained on Twitter, millions of Americans have been impacted by private equality firms. These firms buy businesses and liquidate them in order to squeeze out all of the profitability they can without concern for their employees. This results in employees being laid off, having to make due with reduced pay and/or hours and losing benefits like insurance and severance packages. 

By relating the two problems together, AOC was able to make a series of tweets about an important policy go viral and reach a huge audience. In fact, her initial tweet in response to Swift earned nearly 80K likes and almost 15K retweets. 

Whether it was thanks to Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s attention or the public pressure, this story now has a satisfying ending. 

Twitter / @THR

The music execs at Swift’s former record label and Dick Clark Productions, producer of the American Music Awards, have come to an agreement. In the press release issued by Big Machine Records, details of the agreement were laid out so all of the label’s artists are cleared for performance. 

No word yet if AOC will be tuning into Swift’s American Music Award appearance but hopefully she knows that she helped to make that performance a reality.