Things That Matter

AOC Has Made Roasting Her Twitter Trolls And Haters An Art Form And We’re Mesmerized

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a political figure who has risen on the national (and even international) political platform like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This powerful and hyper-smart Latina has taken the Washington establishment by storm through intelligent remarks, thorough knowledge of facts and policies, and a capacity for verbal sparring that verges on the prodigious. Since her successful and much-publicized campaign, she made her political platform clear: social, economic and racial justice.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a proud Puerto Rican from the Bronx.

Taboo topics like race were not swept under the rug by this New York Latina but rather spoken about loudly and clearly.

Credit: https://ocasio2018.com/splash

Regardless of your political beliefs, it is undeniable that since the rise of Barack Obama in 2006-2007 as a legitimate contender for the presidency, no person of color had gathered so much attention. She has even inspired a comic that portrays her as a kick-ass superhero! The US Representative for the 14th District of New York was elected on November 6, 2018, and since she took office has put forward promising policies such as the New Green Deal, a thorough plan to tackle climate change.

Her no-nonsense attitude has earned her the love and support of millions of Americans who are tired of the establishment.

Credit: aoc3-662×1024. Digital image. artnet NEWS. 

Alexandria is anything but reckless. Her arguments are well constructed and she has become an expert at cross-examining witnesses in congressional hearings. She is only 29-years-old but wise beyond her years, at least in a political sense. Most likely because she is non-white and because she is a woman, the conservative end of the political spectrum (and particularly the alt-right) has often gone on the attack on basically ANYTHING Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez does. Really, it sometimes verges on the ridiculous, like when . Even within the Democratic Party AOC has raised some eyebrows. And really, if she was a man wouldn’t she be mentioned alongside other presidential hopefuls such as Beto O’Rourke? 

Just like Barack Obama ten years before her, AOC has used social media as a tool to engage with her constituents and to engage with other politicians on both sides of the aisle. AOC has become famous for her Twitter takedowns, in which she uses irony and reason (a lethal one-two combination!) to counter her adversaries. 

1. Andrew Pollack, school safety activist, founder of Americans for Children’s Lives and School Safety

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

Policies towards Israel are always a touchy subject in American politics. In this exchange, AOC clearly sets her values: her vote is for protecting kids, regardless of their heritage. 

2. Andy Barr, US Representative for Kentucky through an exchange with Sahil Kapur, political commentator, national political reporter for Bloomberg News 

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

AOC has upset some colleagues who play it very traditional… she offered to debate Barr and he refused for personal reasons, so she offered to fly him and accommodate his every need. Owned. 

3. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

AOC has been described by conservatives as a socialist, a bad word in American politics (there are few cases of people who are openly socialist and successful in politics, like Bernie Sanders). In this tweet, AOC breaks apart propaganda efforts to discredit her. 

4. Chris Cox, National Rifle Association lobbyist

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

It is no secret that AOC has a tough stance regarding gun laws: she thinks they need to change. Here, she totally owns an NRA lobbyist who told her that her district is not “real America.” Well, AOC argues, millions of American citizens would beg to disagree. 

5. Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to President Donald Trump

Credit: @AOC / Twitter
Credit: @AOC / Twitter

Things recently got ugly between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Kellyanne Conway, one of the most controversial faces of the Trump presidency. Conway questioned why AOC hadn’t voiced her condolences after the Sri Lankan terrorist attacks that targeted Christians. In a masterful stroke of political rhetorics, AOC did the following: critiqued Trump’s handling of relief efforts in Puerto Rico, unmasked Conway’s attempt to delegitimize AOC’s religious life (a textbook maneuver to discredit candidates and something that Obama also faced), and, finally, proposed that the administration be more welcoming of immigrants that are feeling religious prosecution all around the world. Ouch, eso duele

6. The Judicial System

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

The recent college admissions scandal that rocked Hollywood brought to light cases in which other parents, particularly people of color, have been jailed for lying to the education system. Being consistent with her motto of achieving racial justice, AOC highlighted the contradictions of how Americans of different origins are treated by the law. 

7. Andy Barr, again… 

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

Ocasio-Cortez retweeted this story by Michael Deibert, an author and scholar. In the story, he points out that Barr had no idea there were no coal miners in his district. This was after he invited AOC to meet them and see for herself how “damaging” her Green New Deal would be. 

8. Her Opponents 

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

Remember Obama’s famous photograph with his feed on the desk showing off the beaten down soles of his shoes? Well, this political trope was replicated by AOC, who posted this photograph of her shoes. The message is clear: it was her work ethic that got her the election, and nothing else. Get of your traseros if you wanna beat her! 

9. John Cardillo, journalist

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

When this dude questioned her electorate, she not only defended them but also took a stab at a certain type of conservative (el tio conservador). 

10. Charlie Kirk, conservative and founder of Turning Point USA, who first posted this, after AOC did a photoshoot with a magazine: 

Credit: @CharlieKirk11 / Twitter
Credit: @AOC / Twitter

Bam! AOC totally owned this dude. First, she let him know how menso he is. Then, she name-dropped two of the issues she fights for (a fair living wage and public health for all) and then she presumes her shopping skills. Dolor!

11. Ryan Saavedra (and Ben Shapiro for good measure)

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

The message is here: her politics are action, not reaction. Women do not have to dance at the beat of men or just make themselves available when dudes wish to. You go, AOC! 

12. Eddie Scarry, journalist for the Washington Examiner

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has received all sorts of banal critiques during her short but high profile political career. How dare she dance? Who does she think she is, right? Look at her, look at her.

13. Fox News

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

Fox News published this screen to point fingers at AOC. Her reply: yes, that is pretty much what I believe in, which her supporters, such as online journalist Liz Plank, applauded.

If there is anything we can all agree on is that AOC is not shy about putting people in their place on social media.

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous. 

Who can forget the moment Conservatives thought they caught AOC in a scandal because of a dancing video form college? Somehow, the GOP thought this was the scandal that would end the Congresswoman. It backfired spectacularly.

READ: AOC Is Putting The GOP On Notice For Preventing Science From Saving American Lives From Climate Change

Trump Administration Hikes Up DACA Renewal Fee To Support U.S. Immigration And Customs Enforcement

Things That Matter

Trump Administration Hikes Up DACA Renewal Fee To Support U.S. Immigration And Customs Enforcement

Juan Escalante @JuanSaaa / Twitter

A new proposal brought forth by immigration officials might hike up the cost of immigrants entering the United States as children. According to a New York Times report, the Trump administration proposal would increase fees for applicants by more than 60 percent and handover more than $200 million to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

On Friday, the Trump administration proposed increasing a “range of fees” tacked onto applications for those seeking legal immigration and citizenship.

If it is sent into motion, the proposal would increase citizenship fees by more than 60 percent. Under the new plan, fees for applicants would skyrocket from $725  to $1,170. The proposal would also allow the government to charge asylum seekers $50 for applications and $490 for work permits. Such a rule would make the United States one out of four countries in the world to force asylum seekers to pay for applications. Australia, Fiji and Iran all charge for asylum protection. 

If instituted, the proposal would be yet another roadblock implemented by the Trump administration to restrict immigration through legal means.

Over the past few months, immigrants and immigration advocates have seen similar attempts at hacking through the rights of immigrants before. Recently the Trump administration issued a series of policies that work to withhold permanent residency to immigrants in the United States have been deemed incapable of financially supporting themselves. They have also blocked entry to immigrants applying for visas on the basis of health insurance status. On October 4, 2019, Trump published a Presidential Proclamation that prevents entry to visa applicants are unable to provide proof of their ability to obtain health insurance within 30 days of entering the United States. 

“Healthcare providers and taxpayers bear substantial costs in paying for medical expenses incurred by people who lack health insurance or the ability to pay for their healthcare.  Hospitals and other providers often administer care to the uninsured without any hope of receiving reimbursement from them,” the proclamation read. “The costs associated with this care are passed on to the American people in the form of higher taxes, higher premiums, and higher fees for medical services.  In total, uncompensated care costs — the overall measure of unreimbursed services that hospitals give their patients — have exceeded $35 billion in each of the last 10 years.”

 Ur Jaddou, former chief counsel at USCIS under the Obama administration called the new policy, “one more way under the administration that they are making legal immigration unattainable.”

“Currently, USCIS is conducting its biennial fee review, as required under the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, to study the agency’s revenue, costs and needs,” a spokesperson for USCIS told BuzzFeed News. “As always, USCIS will publicly communicate information on its fee review through a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published in the federal register, should a decision be made to adjust its fees. No determination has yet been made.”

Immigration advocates on social media have been quick to slam the proposal as unfair. 

“The proposal to get rid of fee waivers is a whole statement and stand against the poor. From the public charge stuff to this. Worse thing too is this is how people actually feel,” film director Angy Rivera wrote in a thread that lambasted the policy. “The Department of Homeland Security’s plan will be open to public comment for 30 days starting Nov. 14. Make sure to flood them!”

Other users who quick to underline the significance of taking the funds from these applicants and transfer them to  Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Trump administration plans to “transfer money raised through the new proposed fee schedule to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency under DHS that carries out deportations, workplace investigations and other immigration enforcement actions. The money would be used to root out any potential fraud in future applications for citizenship, green cards, asylum and other immigration benefits.” 

“At this point I feel like they are just putting numbers in hat, and tossing it around. This is money we use to live and maintain our families, minimum wage ass job won’t cover this. This is just business to make money, y’all taking advantage of us,” Cristal Ruiz Rodriguez wrote in a tweet.

There’s no doubt that the Trump administration’s latest attack on immigrants is a wealth tax.

The Trump administration’s new policy would not be applicable to immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and asking for asylum. 

Melissa Rodgers is the director of programs for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and told the Washington Street Journal that the proposed fees would be unaffordable for those who could have had a chance at citizenship.

“This is a wealth tax on becoming a U.S. citizen,” Rodgers said in a statement. “It’s part and parcel of the assault on the naturalization process.”

Latin America’s First Indigenous President Is Forced To Resign After Weeks Of Protests And Irregular Election Results

Things That Matter

Latin America’s First Indigenous President Is Forced To Resign After Weeks Of Protests And Irregular Election Results

José Luis Rodriguez / Getty

Protests are occurring throughout Latin America as calls for environmental and economic justice strengthen from Chile and Brazil to Venezuela and Ecuador. Now, Bolivia has become the latest flash point for the growing widespread movements across the region.

What started as a protest against President Evo Morales seeking an additional presidential term (he was constitutionally term-limited) has resulted in his abrupt resignation and in what many are calling a coup.

President Morales resigned the presidency after he lost support from the Bolivian police and military.

Bolivia’s political crisis deepened Sunday as President Evo Morales resigned amid allegations of “serious irregularities” during last month’s election and pressure from the country’s armed forces.

Morales faced mounting protests in the aftermath of the October 20 vote as demonstrators and the Bolivian opposition accused electoral authorities of manipulating the vote count in favor of the incumbent. He denied the allegations and declared himself the winner, but was eventually forced to resign

But what led to his resignation?

In the hours after polls closed, preliminary results showed Morales slightly ahead of his opponent, former President Carlos Mesa. But the opposition and international observers became suspicious after election officials stopped the count for about 24 hours without an explanation. When the count resumed, Morales’ lead had jumped significantly.

Electoral monitors from the Organization of American States (OAS) published a report Sunday alleging irregularities that impacted the official vote count.

In the aftermath of the report, Morales initially promised new elections would be held and the country’s electoral council replaced. However just hours later the president had resigned after the head of the Bolivian Armed Forces, Cmdr. Williams Kaliman, asked Morales to step down in order to restore peace and stability.

The decision follows weeks of raucous anti-government protests across the country. 

Demonstrators have burned down the headquarters of local election offices, set up blockades, and paraded a mayor barefoot through the streets after cutting her hair and showering her in paint.

Many are calling this an outright coup committed by the military and US-backed politicians.

The international reaction has been swift and vocal.

On Monday, Mr Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous leader, struck a defiant note on Twitter, saying that “the Bolivian people have never abandoned me and I will never abandon them”. He has also said that he was the victim of a “civic coup”.

International allies of Mr Morales echoed his characterisation of what had happened. The Russian foreign ministry said that “the wave of violence unleashed by the opposition didn’t allow the presidential mandate of Evo Morales to be completed”.

Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard said that events in Bolivia constituted “a coup because the army requested the resignation of the president, and that violates the constitutional order of that country”.

Spain also expressed its concern over the role of Bolivia’s army, saying that “this intervention takes us back to moments in the past history of Latin America”.

But what do Bolivians actually think of all of this?

Mr. Morales, a former coca farmer, was first elected in 2006. He has earned praise for fighting poverty and improving Bolivia’s economy but drew controversy by defying constitutional term limits to run for a fourth term in October’s election, which is alleged to have been rife with irregularities.

The biggest criticism of Evo Morales was his lack of respect for Bolivia’s democracy – accused of overstaying his welcome and refusing to step down. 

But the fact that the military has called the shots on the president standing down does not do much for Bolivia’s democracy either. 

Now Evo Morales has gone, there is a power vacuum. Increasing numbers of his Mas party are resigning, and it feels like there is a need for retribution – for Evo Morales and his people to pay the price for the mistakes they made while in power.

His supporters have called this a coup – his detractors the end of tyranny. The priority now is to choose an interim leader, call new elections and bring a polarised Bolivia together or face yet more unrest and violence in the coming weeks.