Things That Matter

New Report Confirms That Trump’s Border Wall Is Jeopardizing Native American History And Sensitive Environments

Agh! Every time we read or hear the words “Border Wall” our stomach ties up in a knot and we whisper “Y ahora qué se trae este pinche gringo?”. But well, being aware of the repercussions that the Border Wall could have is part of being socially and civically responsible. Being informed is what makes us make better choices when it comes to politics, and next year is a preeeeetty big year when it comes to deciding what the future holds not only for the United States, but for the world at large.  

The Trump Border Wall is just the “gift” that keeps on giving, isn’t it?

Credit: Giphy. @luisprado-0557

We have all discussed the impact that the proposed Border Wall (which seems very close to becoming a reality, particularly if Trump wants to secure a second term by appealing to his core voters) could have on social, cultural and political terms. We know that it will make an already tense border situation even worse, and that the US vs THEM mentality that some hold could get even uglier. This, of course, can lead to further instances if vitriolic racism and violence (vigilante groups will feel vindicated). But as the months go by and the Border Wall seems to become a reality, new findings are discovering its impact in other spheres… 

22 archeological sites in Arizona could be decimated by the Border Wall

Credit: Instagram. @aztassociation

The Border Wall will be constructed right through the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona. The National Park Service commissioned a report to assess the impact that the construction could have on 22 archeological sites in the Park. And the results are alarming. 

The Roosevelt Reservation would be particularly impacted.

Credit: Instagram. @
And the threat is imminent. Contractors have basically set shop and started to build fences around the place. The exact extent of the building plans have not been disclosed, not even to National Park authorities. As Andrew Veech, a member of the National Park Service’s Intermountain Region Archaeology Program, wrote in the report: “Precise design plans for this expanded border infrastructure have been left to the discretion of the contractors, and no details about the building project(s) have been furnished to the National Park Service”. This is just plain wrong, as any efforts to preempt potential problems are impossible. This area is tricky, as it is made up from federal, state, tribal, and private lands. 

The past is being erased.

Credit: Instagram. @pnolbert

The National Park holds invaluable archeological assets left behind by the original indigenous owners of the land. As the Tucson Sentinel reports: “One site located near the Sonoyta River includes artifacts scattered throughout, including dozens of stone artifacts, stone fragments, a “hammerstone,” pieces of broken pots known as sherds, as well as shells presumably from the Gulf of California that were probably used during the Hohokam Period, between 1150 to 1400″. Researchers are still putting the pieces together to unearth the particularities of the human groups that first inhabited what is now the United States-Mexico border, which is key for the identity of a cultural formation. Archeologists argue that these 22 sites yield important information about Native-American populations before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores. 

And the Border Wall will also have an environmental impact.

Credit: Instagram. @arizonasfamily

Geopolitical borders are a human construct, so flora and fauna don’t really care where a country starts and another ends. This is why the environmental impact of a monstrous Border Wall would be nothing short of apocalyptic for Arizonian environment and indigenous communities. As reported by The New York Times: “The unearthing of the area surrounding the barriers and the installation of lights on the wall will devastate wildlife and contaminate cultural lands”. The scenario is dire for animal and plant species in the area, as a former worker of the National Park told NYT: “‘The lights that will be installed on top of the wall, blasted into the wilderness, the ground water being sucked up — it’s more than just a border wall. All of these activities will just increase the desertification of the region”. Just look at the beauty of this landscape, the millenary cacti, the shrubs sucking up water to survive: are we really willing for it all to just become a wasteland?

Trump’s wall would also decimate indigenous populations in Arizona.

Credit: Instagram. @oodhampodcaster

Let us not forget that this area, as happens with long stretches of the border, has been home to Native-Americans for centuries. But their future is at stake. As The New York Times states: “The Organ Pipe Cactus Monument is sandwiched between the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and the Tohono O’odham Reservation. Leaders of the Tohono O’odham say the border wall would virtually split the indigenous community in half”. And really, is there anyone more American than the very first, original Americans?

STD Rates In The US Are At Record Levels And Many Blame Trump’s Policies Targeting Clinics Like Planned Parenthood

Things That Matter

STD Rates In The US Are At Record Levels And Many Blame Trump’s Policies Targeting Clinics Like Planned Parenthood

Pixabay

For years, we’ve been hearing that Millenials and Gen Z are having less sex with fewer partners than previous generations. They’re also waiting until older than previous generations. However, despite those facts, America’s STD rates are spiraling out of control.

But the numbers are clear: With nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis diagnosed in 2017, rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are at an all-time high in the U.S., according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

A new report from the CDC shows just how extreme the increase in STIs really is.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an annual report revealing that the number of combined reported cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia reached a record high last year. Titled “Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report”, the report noted that in 2018, there were more than 2.4 million syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia infections combined — an increase of more than 100,000 from the previous year.

There was also a 71 percent increase in syphilis cases since 2014, along with a 22 percent increase from 2017 in the number of newborn deaths related to congenital syphilis.

What’s harder to pinpoint, however, is the reason behind those soaring statistics.

On paper, it seems like STD rates should be dropping. Condom use is up. Teenagers and millennials are having less sex with fewer partners than generations past. Stigmas around sexuality and sexual health are beginning to break down. And yet, for four consecutive years, STD rates have broken records. Why?

The problem is complicated, says Dr. Bradley Stoner, medical director of the St. Louis STD/HIV Prevention Training Center at Washington University in St. Louis. But a good portion of it, he says, can be traced back to lackluster funding for federal resources like the CDC, which has seen its budget for STD prevention sit stagnant for almost two decades. Increasing federal funding, he says, could allow organizations like the CDC to hire more people focused on STD prevention, increase public health education campaigns and make testing and treatment resources more accessible.

Without adequate resources, however, the STD prevention community doesn’t have the manpower to take steps that could really work — things like building out systems and procedures for contacting and screening the partners of people who are diagnosed with infections, who may be carrying and spreading STDs without knowing it. Many STDs are asymptomatic, often making it difficult to know if you have one.

The nationwide closure of publicly funded STD clinics hasn’t helped matters, either

While the CDC did not explicitly state it, STI testing is becoming harder to come by for vulnerable populations because free test clinics — including some Planned Parenthood clinics — are being defunded by Trump administration policies. Ironically, the Trump administration’s pro-life policies have put newborn babies at a higher risk for death. Indeed, the Trump administration’s policy decision to cut off Title X funding to health care centers that provide abortion care is resulting in the closing of clinics that don’t offer abortion services, but do offer STD testing.

“While we’ve been battling sky-high STI rates, [Republican] politicians…have spent years relentlessly working to chip away at Ohioans’ reproductive health care,” Kersha Deibel, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region, told Vice in September. “This is the world they want to see: one where women lose access to birth control, where information about how to access abortion is held hostage, and where, if you don’t have money, it’s almost impossible to access an STI test or a cancer screening.”

According to the CDC report, defunding public programs is merely one part of a larger problem.

The Center said data suggests there are multiple issues at play: reduced access to STD prevention due to drug use, poverty, and stigma; decreased condom use among gay and bisexual men; and cuts to STD programs at the state and local levels.

“In recent years, more than half of local programs have experienced budget cuts, resulting in clinic closures, reduced screening, staff loss, and reduced patient follow-up and linkage to care services,” the CDC said.

What’s even more wild, is that in 2000 syphilis was nearly eradicated from the US.

Since the recession, some programs were cut because STDs weren’t seen as such a threat, but many of the cut programs didn’t have their funding restored post-recession. Compounded with newfound resources flooding other initiatives, like the Trump administration’s federal budget supporting abstinence-only programs, STD prevention programs have few resources now. According to the National Coalition of STD Directors, more than half of local STD programs have experienced budget cuts.

Yet when reports like this one from the CDC are published, while it is meant to raise awareness, it can often perpetuate the stigma around sexual health and STDs.

Jenelle Marie Pierce, Executive Director of TheSTDProject.com and Spokesperson for PositiveSingles.com, told Salon in an email that “using language like ‘skyrocketing,’ ‘devastating,’ and ‘astronomical,’ for example, is fear-mongering, and it only serves to further stigmatize STIs by extrapolating one component of a giant report without including thoughtful analysis, supportive resources, or content that moves the conversation around STIs forward.”

She Is A Former Undocumented Immigrant And Now She’s Running For Congress As A Republican Who Wants To Build Trump’s Wall

Things That Matter

She Is A Former Undocumented Immigrant And Now She’s Running For Congress As A Republican Who Wants To Build Trump’s Wall

Whittney Williams, a young Taiwanese Republican and formerly undocumented immigrant supports Donald Trump’s immigration policy and is running for Congress in Michigan. Despite living in the United States without her papers for 16 years, she is happy to throw Latinxs under the bus or into alligator-infested moats to score political points with a racist constituency that likely would never vote for an Asian American.

As of 2019, there are only 13 Asian-Americans in Congress and three on the Senate — all of them are Democrats. Asian American representation is sorely lacking in the American political system, but is Williams the person best suited to advocate for their interests? That’s not up for me to decide. However, her stance on immigration ain’t it. 

There are currently 102 women serving in congress out of 435 congresspeople. Guess how many of those women are republicans: 13 out of 102

The Republican Party has been pursuing legislation that many consider racist and sexist. When you align with them as a woman of color they don’t suddenly start to align with your politics, rather they expect you to align with theirs which means possibly supporting racist, sexist, and xenophobic policies.

Williams talks about how difficult it was growing up undocumented but her policy positions will make life for currently undocumented immigrants even more difficult.

“I was brought to America from Taiwan as a 10-year-old girl without knowing a word of English,” Williams says in a campaign ad. “My family overstayed their visas, and as a result, I spent the next 16 years living in the shadows as an illegal immigrant.” 

Williams was undocumented against her will like many children are. Her parents entered the United States using tourist visas in 1992, but stayed long after the visas expired. Williams did not acquire U.S. citizenship until 2013 after getting married. 

“If someone knew (about your immigration status), if you told somebody, they could take advantage of you. It’s a constant fear. And you’re constantly told, ‘Oh, you’re an illegal immigrant,’ not, you know, human. That takes a toll on you as you hear that constantly,” she said on MLive. 

Wow, sounds terrible I guess we should punish everyone in similar situations because reasons… 

Williams wants to “stop the flow” of immigrants. 

Williams wants to curtail immigration in the U.S. and believes building a wall on the southern border would “stop the flow” of migrants. 

“When you look at a problem, of course, you want to stop it first, so you can resolve what’s in here, because if you keep having this flow … this number here is just going to get bigger and bigger,” she told MLive.

The United States is not so densely populated that it can’t afford more immigrants. In fact, immigrants are necessary for our labor force due to low birth rates. So far, Trump’s wall has cost taxpayers $6.2 billion and only 60 miles, of the 2000-mile border, have had their pre-existing fences built. That money can’t go to immigrants? Trump’s trip to play golf have cost taxpayers $340 million. That money can’t go to immigrants? Immigrants are not a burden on our society and these GOP morons need to stop touting this inaccurate talking point. 

You want to stop immigration, then the U.S. needs to support folks in other countries so they don’t have to flee. Few politicians so much as mention this besides Julian Castro who proposed a Marshall Plan in Central America — oh, and he’s a Democrat by the way. 

A broken clock is right twice a day. Williams says Democrats don’t do enough for immigrants. 

Williams says Democrats don’t go far enough on immigration — and I agree. The Obama administration deported more immigrants than any other administration. That will always be a blemish on his and the Democrat’s legacy. 

 “Politicians knew of us: They called us ‘Dreamers,’ and quite frankly, used us as political props for their own personal gain,” she said. 

Yes, the Democratic party likes to trot out immigrants and other marginalized people for political clout but rarely listens to us — but that is not the point. While the Democratic party is imperfect, it is a false equivalency to suggest they are pursuing policies that throw children in cages and would suggest shooting migrants in the legs.

The Democratic party is changing, it has hope to be reformed. We have A.O.C., Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Deb Haaland, and an ever-evolving coalition of people of color and immigrants, indigenous folk, and women who are fighting institutionalists with us and for us right now.

Meanwhile, the Republican party just announced it would be stealing DNA from detained immigrants and entering it into a criminal database. Williams, whose side are you really on?