Things That Matter

Trump, Living In Alternate Reality, Says The U.S. Has Less Coronavirus Thanks To His Border Wall

Trump has long framed the U.S.-Mexico border wall – his vanity project – as protection from outside forces. He’s claimed that his wall will not only deter undocumented migrants from crossing the border but it will also prevent terrorism and crime and now, it provides health security.

On several occasions, Trump has tried to link his wall with protection from the Coronavirus. However, the pandemic is raging out of control within the United States. In fact, it’s other countries that are putting up barriers for Americans as they try to protect themselves from America’s failure to halt the spread of the disease.

Trump claimed that his border wall has protected the U.S. from Coronavirus.

During a Fox News interview with Chris Wallace, Trump made an absurd claim that the U.S. was protected from Coronavirus thanks to his border wall. Wallace was pressing Trump on the U.S. response to the pandemic and how it’s number one in both infections and deaths.

“But you take a look, why don’t they talk about Mexico? Which is not helping us. And all I can say is thank God I built most of the wall, because if I didn’t have the wall up we would have a much bigger problem with Mexico,” Trump told Chris Wallace.

However, Trump must be living in an alternate reality if he truly believes that his border wall has helped prevent the spread of Coronavirus into the country. The U.S. currently has 11 times more cases and far more deaths from the outbreak than Mexico. As of today, Johns Hopkins totaled more than 144,000 deaths and 3.97 million infections in the United States.

Then there’s the fact that the Trump administration has actually been very slow to build Trump’s vanity wall project. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), 245 miles of barrier have been built so far, including parts that replaced older barriers. That’s 245 miles of a 1,954 mile long border.

However, this wasn’t the first time that Trump has made such claims.

Long before Coronavirus had claimed it’s first known victim in the U.S., President Trump was already trying to connect the disease to the U.S.-Mexico border and his wall project.

At a rally in South Carolina on February 28, he argued that we needed to build more wall to keep the virus out, even though it was already in the country and spreading like wildfire.

“We must understand that border security is also health security,” Trump argued. “We will do everything in our power to keep the infection and those carrying the infection from entering our country.”

That same day, the U.S. had 63 known cases of COVID-19, and Mexico announced its first two confirmed cases. Nevertheless, Trump and some of his allies have continued trying to frame illegal crossings of the Mexican border as a top potential source of coronavirus in the United States.

Just this month at a visit to an Arizona segment of the border wall, Trump tried to credit his new wall with stopping both undocumented immigration and the Coronavirus.

“It stopped COVID, it stopped everything,” Trump said.

His comments sparked outrage on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump is known for uttering complete falsehoods – he’s told more than 20,000 since taking office. But these comments about his wall protecting the U.S. from Coronavirus (as it rages within our borders) left many shocked.

In Mexico, President AMLO was asked about Trump’s assertion that construction of the border wall has prevented Coronavirus contagion coming north from Mexico. Although AMLO acknowledged he doesn’t agree with Trump, he also wouldn’t confront him.

“I respect President Trump’s point of view,” López Obrador told reporters during a daily press conference. “Of course I don’t share his opinion, but I’m not going to confront [Trump],” he added.

Both countries have been hit hard by the pandemic, but the U.S. leads the world in infections and deaths.

It’s true that Mexico has also been hit hard by the pandemic. The country is currently ranked seventh globally in terms of the number of infections and fourth in number of deaths. As of July 22, Mexico has 356,255 confirmed Covid-19 cases and has suffered more than 40,000 deaths. Although those numbers are disheartening, they pale in comparison to the figures seen in the United States.

And although the virus has spread aggressively in both countries, Mexican governors of states that border the U.S. have called for stricter border controls to protect their residents. States along the southern border (including California, Arizona, and Texas) have become the new epicenter for the virus in the United States and Mexicans hope to prevent contagion into their states.

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The Trump Administration Just Announced That They’re Banning TikTok Downloads Starting on Sunday

Things That Matter

The Trump Administration Just Announced That They’re Banning TikTok Downloads Starting on Sunday

On Friday, the Trump administration announced that it would be blocking future downloads of social media app TikTok starting on midnight on Sunday.

“At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

The Trump Administraiton is also taking action against the popular messaging and payment app WeChat, banning American companies from hosting the app’s internet traffic or processing transactions for the app (one of its key features).

Both TikTok and WeChat are the two most popular tech exports from China.

via Getty Images

TikTok is a popular video-sharing platform that allows users to share 15-second videos of themselves dancing and lip-syncing to popular music (among other things). The app recently exploded in popularity, racking up 99.8 million downloads in the first six months of 2020.

TikTok and WeChat have both been recent targets of the Trump administration due to their data-collection practices.

TikTok, specifically, has recently come under fire for violating Google privacy policies. TikTok collects and documents massive amounts of data from their users, like videos watched and commented on, location data, device type, and copy-and-paste “clipboard” contents. The app even records people’s keystroke rhythms as they type.

The Trump Administration has long been suspicious of TikTok’s data-collection, speculating that TikTok might be sending the data to the Chinese government.

The Trump administration has argued that such massive amounts of data in the hands of a foreign government is a threat to national security. TikTok denies that they are handing over the data to the Chinese government.

TikTok, for their part, are not hiding their displeasure about the ban, releasing a public statement saying: “We will continue to challenge the unjust executive order, which was enacted without due process and threatens to deprive the American people and small businesses across the US of a significant platform for both a voice and livelihoods.”

This isn’t the first time TikTok has gone toe-to-toe with the Trump administration. The social media company sued the administration in August after Trump signed an executive order enacting broad sanctions against the app. TikTok claimed that the order denied the company of due process.

The TikTok ban is making waves because it marks the first time the U.S. has banned a tech app on the basis of national security concerns.

But some critics are saying that there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason behind the ban. “It just feels to me to be improvisational,” said cyber-security expert Adam Segal.

Both TikTok users and concerned Americans have taken to the internet to express their anger at the Trump administration’s decision.

“Don’t be mistaken folks,” said one Twitter user. “Sunday it will be TikTok. Tomorrow it will be twitter, FB, Instagram…you name it…We must protect free speech!”

Another pointed out the hypocrisy of Trump targeting China when he doesn’t seem to be as concerned about Russia meddling in our internet affairs. “I live in a world where TikTok is a threat to national security but Russian interference in our elections is not,” she said. “This is Trump’s America.”

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Peru’s Indigenous Are Turning To Ancestral Medicines To Fight The Coronavirus

Culture

Peru’s Indigenous Are Turning To Ancestral Medicines To Fight The Coronavirus

Joao Laet / Getty Images

With news headlines like “How Covid-19 could destroy indigenous communities”, it’s hard to understate the affect that the Coronavirus has had on Indigenous communities across the world.

Even before the pandemic hit, native populations were already at increased risk of health complications, poor access to medical care, lack of proper education, and even premature death. The pandemic has only exacerbated these issues as government programs and NGOs who delivered aid to far flung communities have grind to a halt.

However, many communities have started taking the matter into their own hands by creating their own impromptu healthcare systems based on ancestral techniques and others have barricaded off their villages from the outside world in an effort to stem the flow of the virus.

In Peru, many Indigenous communities are turning to centuries-old medicines to fight back against the Coronavirus.

The Coronavirus has had a devastating impact on Peru – the country with the world’s highest per capita Covid-19 mortality rate. At particular risk is the nation’s large Indigenous community, who often lack proper access to education efforts and medical care. This has forced many Indigenous groups to find their own remedies.

In the Ucayali region, government rapid response teams deployed to a handful of Indigenous communities have found infection rates as high as 80% through antibody testing. Food and medicine donations have reached only a fraction of the population. Many say the only state presence they have seen is from a group responsible for collecting bodies of the dead.

At least one community, the Indigenous Shipibo from Peru’s Amazon region, have decided to rely on the wisdom of their ancestors. With hospitals far away, doctors stretch too thin and a lack of beds, many have accepted the alternative medicine.

In a report by the Associated Press, one villager, Mery Fasabi, speaks about gathering herbs, steeping them in boiling water and instructing her loved ones to breathe in the vapors. She also makes syrups of onion and ginger to help clear congested airways.

“We had knowledge about these plants, but we didn’t know if they’d really help treat COVID,” the teacher told the AP. “With the pandemic we are discovering new things.”

One of the plants the Shipibo are using is known locally as ‘matico.’ The plant has green leaves and brightly colored flowers. And although Fasabi admits that these ancestral remedies are by no means a cure, the holistic approach is proving successful. She says that “We are giving tranquility to our patients,” through words of encouragement and physical touch.

Even before the Coronavirus, Indigenous communities were at a greater risk for infectious diseases.

Indigenous peoples around the globe tend to be at higher risk from emerging infectious diseases compared to other populations. During the H1N1 pandemic in Canada in 2009, for example, aboriginal Canadians made up 16% of admissions to hospital, despite making up 3.4% of the population.

Covid-19 is no exception. In the US, one in every 2,300 indigenous Americans has died, compared to one in 3,600 white Americans.

Indigenous groups are particularly vulnerable to dying from Covid-19 because they often live days away from professional medical help. As of July 28, the disease had killed 1,108 indigenous people and there had been 27,517 recorded cases, with the majority in Brazil, according to data published by Red Eclesial Panamazonia (Repam).

Some communities are turning inward to survive COVID-19, barricading villages and growing their own food.

Despite the immense threat they face, Indigenous communities are fighting back.

“I am amazed to see the ways that indigenous peoples are stepping up to provide support where governments have not,” Tauli-Corpuz, a teacher at Mexico’s UNAM, told The Conversation. “They are providing PPE and sanitation, making their own masks, and ensuring that information on Covid-19 is available in local languages, and are distributing food and other necessities.”

They are also choosing to isolate. In Ecuador’s Siekopai nation, about 45 Indigenous elders, adults and children traveled deep into the forest to their ancestral heartland of Lagartococha to escape exposure to the Coronavirus, says the nation’s president Justino Piaguaje.

Despite their best efforts, many experts are extremely concerned for the survival of many Indigenous communities.

Credit: Ginebra Peña / Amazonian Alliance

They are already facing the ‘tipping point’ of ecological collapse due to increased threats of deforestation, fires, industrial extraction, agribusiness expansion and climate change,” Amazon Watch executive director Leila Salazar-Lopez told UNESCO of Amazonian Indigenous groups.

“Now, the pandemic has created one more crisis, and as each day passes, the risk of ethnocide becomes more real.”

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