HIV and AHCA, ICE Raids, South Sudan: This Week in Politics and Resistance


This Week in Politics and Resistance is a new feature on Flavorwire. It’s a consolidation of the work we started with our Daily Engagement column, which have been running (as the name suggests) daily since the election. This new feature is aimed at keeping people abreast of what’s going down in politics throughout the week — and hopefully helping readers feel somewhat less helpless and hopeless (or at least in control of their helplessness and hopelessness) in the midst of a political news cycle that’s ceaselessly awful. We try to lay out the awfulness in such a manner that you can at least see it coming, and prepare for ways to resist it — whether that’s by attending a planned protest, calling specific members of Congress, or donating to an organization that deals directly with an issue to which the Trump administration has dealt a new blow.

Opposing AHCA

One of the reasons AHCA is so sinister is because of its ability to do damage to many crucial facets of American healthcare without ever mentioning them specifically, particularly within the Medicaid expansion rollback part of the bill. Last week, it was widely reported (though it still felt underemphasized in the news) that the Medicaid element of the bill would partially defund Planned Parenthood, preventing people using Medicaid from getting coverage for care from any clinic/organization that provides abortions.

Another far less reported aspect of the bill is the sinister, Reaganite silent attack on HIV medication. PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis (Truvada), is a drug with the potential to greatly reduce the spread of HIV, and has provided an element of security to people within a community still recovering from an epidemic that the U.S. government brutally ignored. But it also happens to cost $1,500 a month without insurance. Time Money noted last week that a lot of the affordable coverage for people on this drug came with the Obam administration’s Medicaid expansion: “The proposed plan would complicate PrEP access, particularly for low-income Americans in the 31 states, plus the District of Columbia, that adopted the Medicaid expansion.” The feature quoted Noël Gordon Jr, a senior program specialist for HIV prevention and health equity at the Human Rights Campaign:

No matter which way you spin it, a repeal would be devastating. It would not only halt the progress we’ve made, but it has the potential to turn the tide the other direction, where we could potentially see the spread of HIV.

Beyond access to PrEP, Jason Silverstein writes in Vice’s Tonic about the potential endangerment of people already living with HIV/AIDS:

Medicaid is the largest insurer of people with HIV/AIDS and, in states that expanded Medicaid to people making below 138 percent of the poverty line, the number of uninsured dropped by six percent. This is a matter of life and death: One study found that uninsured HIV patients were 40 percent more likely to die during a hospital stay than people with insurance.

This is one of many ways AHCA would impact poor — and here, predominantly underprivileged LGBT — communities.

Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office released a report on the bill, revealing, per the New Republic, the extent to which it’s “a large tax cut for the rich paid for by taking insurance away from the working class and poor.”

Though AHCA was met with vast and vocal disapproval, it’s also very quickly moving through the House of Representatives. Last week, it got approval from two committees — now it presumably needs to go through the House Budget Committee and the Rules Committee before it makes its way to the House floor. Of course, some Republicans don’t support the bill because they think it’s too lenient — but others are on the fence for other reasons; and enough calls to “yes”-ers could even put the pressure on and change some minds. This is a particularly crucial time to call members of Congress. Here’s a list of everyone on the House Budget Committee, with links to their websites, all of which will provide phone numbers — if you’re from any of these Representatives’ districts, call!

The Hill has a list they’re updating of where Republican Representatives stand on AHCA — find your district Representative (if they’re Republican), see where they stand, and give them a call, in advance of a potential vote on the House floor. Planned Parenthood also has a script that you can use if you want to focus on reproductive rights in your calls to representatives.

For New Yorkers, make a quick call to oppose ICE raids

Here’s a concrete way by which local policy can respond to federal policy. United We Dream has sent out an email calling on New Yorkers to contact District Attorneys in their respective boroughs and asking them to stop “broken windows” policing — a police tactic that’s already problematic because of its targeting of communities of color and harsh condemnations for small crimes (anything from “jumping the subway turnstile, selling DVD’s on the street, forgetting to pay a fine, trespassing in a NYCHA building, littering, and having a small amount of marijuana,” per United We Dream), not to mention its highly questionable effectiveness.

And under Trump, broken windows policing is all the more dangerous for immigrants, because the President’s executive order on the matter aims to enable deportation for anyone who’s committed any crime, including the inconsequential crimes for which people are often prosecuted by way of broken windows policing. “District Attorneys are the only people who have the power to halt these prosecutions by declining to prosecute these cases,” United We Dream wrote in an email sent to members. Here are instructions on how to make the call.

Donating to aid organizations fighting famine

If you have any money to donate to this week, the International Rescue Committee and the World Food Programme are the organizations to give it to. Currently, parts of South Sudan — a country that’s only six years old — are in the midst of a deadly, manmade famine following civil war, with 7.5 million people in need of assistance, according to the United Nations; Yemen (where the U.S., first under Obama and now under Trump, is greatly aiding Saudi Arabia in killing people, if we’re not just doing it ourselves), Somalia, and Nigeria are also on the brinks of famine, with 20 million people at risk in total. The IRC writes:

Famines are not common. When a famine is declared it means people are already dying. And the last time this happened, six years ago in the Horn of Africa, the cause was a natural one: drought. This time [in South Sudan] it’s man-made: violence and conflict are cutting off supply routes, driving food prices sky high and impeding access for aid agencies… The world has turned its back on South Sudan: the 2017 humanitarian appeal for aid has only reached 0.9%. South Sudan is a forgotten crisis, one of the least discussed and under-funded in the world.

In the Washington Post, George Clooney and human rights activist John Prendergast (who together co-founded The Sentry — “a team of analysts, regional experts, and financial forensic investigators which follows the money to disrupt the corrupt networks who fund and profit from genocide or other mass atrocities in Africa”) write:

South Sudan’s famine would be more accurately described as “government-made…The government has also concentrated recent attacks on areas where agricultural production traditionally fed large parts of South Sudan, not only resulting in massive human displacement but also devastating local grain production, which leads to hyperinflation in food prices…If the South Sudan government allowed humanitarian organizations unfettered access to the victims of the attacks, which include approximately 3 million people who have been rendered homeless, then the aid agencies would have been able to prevent a famine from occurring. But instead, the government has obstructed access by these organizations in a variety of ways, as have the rebels, thus resulting in huge pockets of populations — including tens of thousands of children — who have received little to no assistance at the height of their need.

They say that now is the time to not only draw attention to the famine — and urge people to, indeed, support humanitarian aid organizations — but also to the root causes of it.

Anticipating a Military-Centric Budget Proposal

“The spending budget Trump is set to release Thursday will offer the clearest snapshot of his vision for the size and role of government,” writes the Washington Post — quite ominously. The budget will, according to aides, seek largely to augment military spending while cutting back drastically on basic human needs like housing and taking care of the environment. But because this is a matter of budgeting — and because Congress is the key decider in monetary matters — it’ll likely take a while to pass through the House and Senate, and, per the Post, could have a difficult time there. So be ready on Thursday to make calls to your Senators and Representatives.