Border Wall Funding
The Pentagon released plans on Wednesday evening to defund over 127 military projects around the world to fund Trump’s border wall along the southern border with Mexico. Rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico stand to lose $400 million alone with the budget usurping a total of $3.6 billion. Additionally, $770 million will be scooped up from European projects aimed to defend NATO allies from potential Russian attacks.
While all 127 projects are technically being “deferred” or delayed, to fund each project Congress will have to vote again. However, it takes Congress what seems like forever to agree on any budgetary terms due to their partisan issues and polarity (the government shutdown in early 2019 was an excellent example of this impasse).
Indeed, Trump’s demand for resources to fund his border wall is exactly what caused the shutdown — the longest in US history — in the first place.
After Congress voted not to support the wall, he is now moving Congressionally delegated funds for national security efforts to his Great Wall of White Supremacy, which has become a vanity project that has yet to prove it will benefit the country financially or socially more than it will cost us.
This type of financial shell game is made possible by the obscure military law Section 2808, part of the National Emergencies Act. This law allows the military to undertake military construction projects only after the President declares a state of emergency. Trump declared an emergency in February 2019 after Congress failed to pass his budget for the wall. Unsurprisingly, Democratic members of Congress are not pleased with this move. Florida Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz stated:
“To pay for his xenophobic border wall boondoggle, President Trump is about to weaken our national security by stealing billions of dollars from our military. The House of Representatives will not backfill any projects he steals from today.”
Hurricane Dorian, which battered the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane, is now moving up the east coast of the United States. After barely scraping Florida and Georgia it now threatens the South Carolina coast as a Category 2 storm. Tornadoes, downed power lines, and significant storm surges are being reported throughout the Charleston area. Roughly 215,000 people are without power along the Georgian, South and North Carolina coastlines. As many as 300,000 people have evacuated the coastal regions.
The Bahamas are just beginning to assess the catastrophic damage that Dorian caused, leveling most of the structures on the string of islands southeast of Miami. With a rising death toll of 23 and counting, the islands are devastated. A massive search and rescue operation is underway looking for people trapped under rubble and debris. First responders from across the US, the US Coast Guard, the British Royal Navy, and several aid groups are assisting in the recovery and rescue efforts.
The island of Great Abaco was powerfully hit with a 20-foot storm surge obliterating the town of Marsh Harbour. Reports of shelters running out of food and potable water surfaced early Thursday, along with desperate calls for aid and rescue.
Hong Kong Protests
Across the world, Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam has fully withdrawn a controversial bill that would allow extradition to mainland China. The impetus for several months of significant protesting in Hong Kong which rallied millions of protesters, this bill was seen as a means to give Beijing the ability to disappear or extradite progressive dissidents of Hong Kong to mainland China.
The protesters have five specific demands, one of which is Lam’s resignation and democratic elections held to find her successor. Lam has stated she will not resign while several reports indicate that she is deeply unhappy in her position. She was not elected to the post, but instead appointed by Beijing officials. Because of this fact, she does not have the right to step down even if she wanted to… which seems reason enough to demand free and fair elections in Hong Kong.
While the massive movement is leaderless, other general demands include greater democratic freedoms, an inquiry into police brutality, the withdrawal of the extradition bill, and the release of those arrested during the protests. The momentous demonstrations have continued to grow over the last three months, culminating last weekend in a massive protest in defiance of a police order that no demonstrations occur. Additionally, protestors took over the Hong Kong airport in late August halting all air traffic for two days.
These disruptions affected the stock markets which then incentivized business people to implore the demands of the protesters to be answered to stem further financial bleeding. With no sign of backing down and significant political power, the protesters of Hong Kong may be able to control the dialogue and demand free and fair elections. The world anxiously awaits their next moves.
Ann Lewis is an artist, activist, and writer based in Detroit. Her artwork reflects upon social and environmental justice issues.