Things That Matter

Trump Wants To Spend $500 Million To Paint His Border Wall Black While The Pandemic Leaves Millions Unemployed

Despite unprecedented economic losses that have left more than 30 million Americans without work and millions more working in unsafe conditions, Trump has his own priorities.

Since launching his presidential campaign in 2016 on the promise of building a glorious border wall along the U.S. – Mexico border, Trump has been obsessed with realizing this massive waste of tax payer dollars. Now he is renewing calls for the wall to be painted black and in what can simply be described as a cruel and wasteful move.

Donald Trump orders his border wall to be painted black to deter more migrants during the summer when it would be too hot to touch.

President Donald Trump has requested the border wall, one of his signature campaign promises, be painted black, a proposal that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a new report. 

The Washington Post reported that Trump had ordered the border wall to be painted black in order to make it look more imposing and to make it too hot to touch during the summer. Quoting anonymous administration officials, the Post reported Trump told his senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner to assess cost estimates for the wall painting plan. 

According to estimates, the cost of painting the wall black would range from $500 million for acrylic paint to over $3 billion for a “powder coating” on the wall.

The Democratic National Committee slammed the report, saying Trump “would rather let states go bankrupt than provide them more money to pay their teachers, police officers and firefighters, and fund services for the poor and elderly.”

He is reiterating the call for a black border wall despite a global health pandemic that has left millions infected and millions more without jobs.

As the U.S. death toll from Covid-19 rises to nearly 80,000 and the economy is in shambles, Trump has decided the border wall’s paint job is far more important. The president is insisting that the barrier’s steel slats be painted black, despite officials’ efforts to talk him out of it and $500 million in additional costs that the cosmetic feature is expected to add to the project’s already expensive price tag.

“POTUS has changed his mind and now wants the fence painted,” an official involved in the construction of the wall told the Post. “We are modifying contracts to add.”

It may seem odd to be fixated on the color of his border wall, given the hefty additional costs painting it black would impose on the project and the pandemic currently ravaging the country under his watch—but Trump at least has a good reason. According to the Post, he’s willing to further inflate the wall budget because he believes painting it black would “enhance its forbidding appearance” and “leave the steel too hot to touch during summer months.”

This isn’t the first time Trump has floated painting the border wall black, but officials thought they had talked him out of it last fall.

Reports have emerged in the past over Trump’s obsession with micromanaging the physical appearance of his famed border wall. In May 2019, a Post report revealed Trump had floated painting the ‘slats’ of the border wall a ‘flat black’ so the metal would absorb more heat from the sun and make it harder for people to scale.

Trump also said he wanted the border barrier to include metal spikes at the top that will cut climbers’ hands.

Fisher Sand and Gravel, a South Dakota-based company already being considered for a $400 million contract to build new portions of wall in Arizona, were consulted to provide estimates for painting. They provided the $500 million – $3 billion estimates for painting the structure’s 30-foot steel bollards depending on the option of paint, which the White House has not yet chosen.

Trump has renewed his call for the border wall and blamed migration on the Coronavirus pandemic – even though that’s 100% fake news.

In recent weeks, Trump has increased attention on his border wall project – labeling it a way to protect the country from the Coronavirus pandemic. According to his administration, the structure and the government’s cruel immigration policy have acted as a defense against coronavirus spreading into the U.S. from other countries.  

‘Mexico is sadly experiencing very big CoronaVirus problems, and now California, get this, doesn’t want people coming over the Southern Border. A Classic!’ Trump tweeted Tuesday.

‘They are sooo lucky that I am their President,’ he gloated. ‘Border is very tight and the Wall is rapidly being built!’

However, the president seems to be ignoring the fact that the U.S. in the number one country in the world when it comes to Coronavirus infections and deaths. In fact, at the beginning of the global pandemic, Mexico had considered closing its border with the U.S. to prevent the spread of the disease from the U.S. into Mexico.

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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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Nearly 9,000 Unaccompanied Child Migrants Have Been Expelled From the U.S. Under Trump’s COVID-19 Restrictions

Things That Matter

Nearly 9,000 Unaccompanied Child Migrants Have Been Expelled From the U.S. Under Trump’s COVID-19 Restrictions

On Friday, previously undisclosed court documents revealed that almost 9,000 unaccompanied migrant children seeking refuge were denied access to the U.S. and subsequently expelled from U.S. soil. None of these children were given a chance in court.

According to reporting done by CBS News, U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials have “suspended humanitarian protections” for most migrants crossing the border, on the grounds that “public health law overrides asylum, immigration and anti-trafficking safeguards” in the era of COVID-19.

CBS news made the shocking discovery when investigating the problematic and increased practice of holding and detaining minors in unregulated, privately contracted hotel rooms.

The government is arguing that the practice is keeping the American public safe from possibly COVID-19 exposure from unauthorized migrants.

“What we’re trying to do…is remove all individuals, regardless of whether they’re children — minors — or they’re adults,” Customs and Border Patrol official Mark Morgan said in an August media briefing.

He continued: “We’re trying to remove [the migrants] as fast as we can, to not put them in our congregate settings, to not put them into our system, to not have them remain in the United States for a long period of time, therefore increasing the exposure risk of everybody they come in contact with.”

via Getty Images

But critics are claiming that the Trump Administration is using COVID-19 as an excuse to unlawfully expel as many migrants as possible–regardless of their age.

On Friday, federal Judge Dolly M. Gee ordered the administration to put an end to the practice of detaining children in hotel rooms, saying that hotels do not “adequately account for the vulnerability of unaccompanied minors in detention”. She asked the government to put an end to the practice by September 15th.

It is in the court documents regarding the above case that 8,800 expelled migrant children number was revealed.

“The numbers are stunning,” said executive director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, Lindsay Toczylowski, to CBS News. “…To find out that our government has literally taken children who are seeking protection and sent them back to the very places they fled in such high numbers really took my breath away.”

via Getty Images

US Border Patrol Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz has defended the unsafe hotel detainment and speedy expulsion of migrant children, saying that stopping the practice would increase risk of exposure to health and customs officials alike.

But even if the practice comes to an end, the staggering number of unaccompanied migrant and refugee children left to their own devices is sitting heavy on the soul of advocates and activists.

“It’s just completely contrary, not only to all child protection norms and standards, but also just completely contrary to our values as a nation around protecting the most vulnerable,” said vice president for international programs at Kids in Need of Defense Lisa Frydman to CNN. “Because we are just wholesale shipping them out without making sure that it’s safe for them to go.”

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