Things That Matter

A Colombian Politician Was Busted At The Airport Trying To Smuggle 7 Kilos In His Prosthetic Leg

Colombian politician, Víctor Hugo Agudelo didn’t make it on his Frankfurt, Germany-bound flight October 7, after he was caught with $175,000 worth of cocaine stuffed in his prosthetic leg. Agudelo was stopped by Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport narcotics officers after they noticed he was having trouble walking. They offered their assistance and asked if something was wrong with his leg. From there, an argument broke out, which resulted in a working canine alerting the officers to the presence of drugs.

Agudelo was arrested, and released just hours later on a technicality that nobody quite understands. Many are outraged at the thought that his political privilege exempts him from legal consequences. Since then, Agudelo has continued his campaign, but party leaders aren’t having it.

One police officer recalled that the way Agudelo was dragging his leg roused suspicion.

Credit: @JACOBOSOLANOC / Twitter

The officers approached Agudelo to ask if he was okay to walk. When he got defensive, narcotics officers approached and launched a routine protocol. Later, it was discovered that, in addition to the 7 kilos of prosthetic weight, Agudelo was trying to walk with additional 7 kilos of cocaine stuffed inside the prosthetic. That means his leg weighed around 30 pounds, twice as heavy as usual, and likely pretty uncomfortable to walk around with. 

After the argument finally dispelled, officers assisted him to a body scanner.

Screenshot. Digital Video. City TV. 22 October 2019.

City TV video shows Agudelo being wheeled over to the body scanner. He steps up to the machine and places his hands behind his head. The body scan results were abnormal and prompted the next phase of testing. Officers then passed the prosthetic leg alone through an x-ray machine and were shocked to find the contraband. 

Officers tested his prosthetic for traces of cocaine, which came back positive.

Screenshot. Digital Video. City TV. 22 October 2019.

Agudelo was released just a few hours after his arrest, prompting outrage from other citizens. Public commentary is full of complaints that Agudelo is being treated with the privilege of being a politician. “Of course it is political, anyone would be given 50 years in jail” one Gustavo Cerati said in a comment on Actualidad.

Compounding the outrage is that his crime has been captured on video, but without the consequences that so many other offenders face.

Since his arrest, Agudelo has remained unapologetic.

Credit: Victor Agudelo / Facebook

Nearly two weeks after his arrest, he posted a meme depicting Jesus Christ with the phrase, “The only one who can judge me forgives me.” In the weeks since his arrest, his campaign has posted videos of supporters daily, each meant to represent women, the disabled, the working class, and so on. 

Two days after his arrest and release, he attended a campaign event with William Palomino and Clara Luz Roldán, mayoral and gubernatorial candidates. He’s attended at least one other campaign event since then and continues to aspire to earn a seat as a Council member. “I’m still here with my people, I’m still working, I’m part of the Radical Change group and I’m moving on confidently,” he shared on his social media account. 

The Radical Change group disagrees.

Credit: Victor Agudelo / Facebook

While party leaders can’t force an indictment or further charges brought against Agudelo, they are seeking to remove his party membership and are publicly denouncing his candidacy. In particular, Senator José Luis Pérez has been outspoken about the illegitimacy of Agudelo candidacy at this point. “I reject any action that is outside the law and more in the case of a crime as unfortunate as drug trafficking is,” Senator Pérez told Blu Radio. Pérez also told Actualidad that the police report confirmed that a canine trained in drug-sensitivity was able to find the drug in Agudelo’s prosthesis.

Agudelo was set to be a shoo-in for a council seat in La Unión, in the department of El Valle del Cauca. Today, the jury’s out.

Credit: @JavierBarreraA / Twitter

Cocaine trafficking is commonplace in Colombia, the cocaine production capital of the world. Overnight, narcotics officers arrested and detained two other cocaine traffickers who thought they could hide the narcotics inside their luggage. 

While Agudelo hasn’t faced any legal consequences for his alleged crime, the political consequences are swelling. His party has rejected him, and political cartoonists are glorifying the bizarre incident. Agudelo continues to protest his innocence with claims that only God can judge him.

READ: Colombian Navy Rescues Drug Traffickers Stranded In The Ocean, Floating On Top Of Packets Of Cocaine

As The Impeachment Trial Heats Up, Trump’s Defenders Start To Crack Under Pressure

Things That Matter

As The Impeachment Trial Heats Up, Trump’s Defenders Start To Crack Under Pressure

@themoteige / Twitter

On Dec. 18, just before Christmas, a gift arrived at the House of Congress, two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. After what seemed like an eternity of “will Trump ever be impeached?” the moment some Americans have been calling for finally came to fruition. Yet, the moment of justice against Trump was quickly fogged when Republicans began to attempt to derail the proceedings. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it perfectly clear that articles of impeachment presented from the House chamber to the Senate chamber would be dismissed because no Republican would ever vote to impeach Trump. Then something magical happened. People started talking.

Almost a month after the House voted to impeach President Donald Trump, Rep. Nancy Pelosi finally sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate floor on Jan. 15 to begin the impeachment trial.

Credit: @speakerPelosi / Twitter

It took a while for Rep. Pelosi to get those articles of impeachment to the Senate, but many believed she had a strategic plan. After all, Sen. Mitch McConnell said he wouldn’t allow any witnesses or hear any new evidence. So, Rep. Pelosi must have had a plan, right? 

“In an impeachment trial, every Senator takes an oath to ‘do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.’ Every Senator now faces a choice: to be loyal to the President or the Constitution,” Pelosi said in the letter, according to NPR. Rep. Pelosi also said she didn’t expect a fair trial. She proceeded, anyway. 

Democrats also announced they would have impeachment managers. Speaker of the House Pelosi named seven diverse lawmakers, including one Latina. 

Credit: @AlexNBCNews / Twitter

The seven lawmakers were picked because they have a legal background or expertise and also have served in Congress for decades. 

What’s remarkable about this diverse group of impeachment managers is that, as the New York Times notes, when President Bill Clinton had his impeachment trial in 1999, the impeachment managers back then were 13 white men. This time around, Trump is getting Rep. Adam B. Schiff, House Intelligence Committee chairman and lead manager, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, chair of the House Committee on House Administration, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Val Demings, member of the Intelligence and Judiciary committees, Rep. Jason Crow, member of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Sylvia Garcia, member of the House Judiciary Committee. 

On the same day that the trial got underway — and the managers were sworn in, along with Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the trial  — new revelations against Trump and others came roaring out of the TV.

Credit: @revsusanrussell / Twitter

If you’ve been keeping up with the impeachment process, you should know that Trump’s being impeached for asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s son for corruption. That’s what all of this is about, Trump asking for personal favors to get dirt against a politician who is seeking to run for office. Trump has said many times that request was not a favor. Now, at least one person involved in the Ukraine exchange of information is throwing Trump and many others under the bus. If you need a full refresher of the entire mess, click here

Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump’s lawyer Rudi Giuliani, told multiple journalists that Trump’s request to get dirt on Biden was known by all.

Credit: @cnnbrk / Twitter

“Because of my Ukrainian background and my contacts there, I became like Rudy’s assistant, his investigator,” he told the New Yorker. “I don’t do anything on my own. I don’t lobby people. I go get information. I set up a meeting. I make sure that the call went right. I make sure the translation is done right.”

“President Trump knew exactly what was going on,” he told Rachel Maddow, “He was aware of all my movements … I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president.”

Even people who once said they never met Parnas, including Rep. Devin Nunes, finally admitted to having known Parnas.

Credit: @jennyrachelpal / Twitter

Just last month, Rep. Nunes said he wasn’t sure who Parnas was and added that he would never speak to random people. However, like many people connected to the scandal, Nunes has now admitted that he has talked to Parnas. Rep. Nunes went on Fox News to say that he did look back at his records and realize he had talked with him. 

“I didn’t remember the name. But I did remember going back, looking at where I was at the time. Because you know you can do that now,” he said, according to CNN. “You actually know where you physically are. Checked it with my records, and it was very clear. I remember that call, which was very odd, random. Talking about random things. And I said, ‘Great, you know, just talk to my staff’ and boom, boom, boom. Which is normal, standard operating procedure.”

Seems like the impeachment trial is just heating up and more information is casting doubt on Trump and his most ardent defenders.

READ: Kellyanne Conway Is Convinced That Americans Think the Impeachment Process is a Sham

Florida Republicans Just Introduced Four Anti-LGBTQ Bills On The Last Day Possible And People Are Asking Why Now?

Things That Matter

Florida Republicans Just Introduced Four Anti-LGBTQ Bills On The Last Day Possible And People Are Asking Why Now?

Ben Wassenhatch / Flickr

Seven Republican lawmakers in Florida filed four anti-LGBTQ bills hours before the deadline for the upcoming legislative session this week. The bills undo many of the protections that exist for LGBTQ Florida residents. The four bills would repeal county and municipal ordinances for LGBTQ workers, legalize gay conversion therapy, and ban transgender healthcare for children, according to NBC News. 

The homophobic and transphobic legislation was introduced by representatives Anthony Sabatini, Bob Rommel, Michael Grant, and Byron Donalds, along with Senators Joe Gruters and Keith Perry. Florida Rep. Shevrin Jones, who is a member of the LGBTQ community, and other advocates are now fighting against the bills’ passing. 

Advocates respond to the bill calling it “discrimination and hate.”

“Clearly they’ve decided that discrimination and hate are central to their election-year platform despite our state’s incredible diversity,” Jones said in a statement. “Just as I’ve done since I was elected in 2012, I will continue to fight any legislation that marginalizes or threatens any Floridian’s shot at a secure, safe, and bright quality of life.”

Jones also accused Florida Republicans of, “wasting tax dollars attacking Florida’s most vulnerable communities rather than prioritizing the issues that impact everyday people’s lives.” 

Equality Florida released a statement highlighting many of the consequences such a bill would have. 

“This is the most overtly anti-LGBTQ agenda from the Florida Legislature in recent memory,” Jon Harris Maurer, the group’s public policy director, said. “It runs the gamut from openly hostile legislation that would arrest and imprison doctors for providing medically necessary care, to legislation that would carelessly erase critical local LGBTQ protections.”

Senator Gruters defends the bill, claiming it “includes protections.”

“The bill certainly does not authorize an employer to discriminate against employees who are members of protected classes, whether protected by federal or state law or local ordinance,” Gruters told NBC News via email.  “While I do not believe the bill has any impact on local anti-discrimination ordinances, in an abundance of caution, I included language in the bill’s preamble to make clear that the preemption would not affect local anti-discrimination laws, and any court would interpret the preemption consistent with that preamble.” 

While Gruters claims it would include protections, Joe Saunders, senior political director at Equality Florida, claims that these so-called protections are merely a part of the bill’s preamble and would carry no weight should the bills become law. 

“We appreciate that Sen. Gruters put that in,” Saunders said. “It’s not policy; it’s not considered part of the bill.”

Democratic senator Lori Berman suggested the bill was nothing more than a political stunt to garner votes from homophobic and transphobic constituents. 

“I’m disappointed to see some of my colleagues proposing this regressive and discriminatory anti-LGBT agenda,” Berman wrote on Twitter. “What benefit to the public does this legislation actually serve, apart from tossing red meat to a political base in an election season?” 

Trans children are particularly vulnerable to the policies. 

“Transgender youth are some of the most at risk in our community,” Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s director of transgender equality, told NBC News. “It is outrageous that conservative legislators would threaten their health and safety. Medical professionals, not politicians, should decide what medical care is in the best interest of a patient. Forcing a doctor to deny best practice medical care and deny support to transgender youth can be life-threatening.”

Making it illegal for doctors to provide necessary care to trans children certainly goes against the Hippocratic oath, but if you think something so dystopian can’t happen just look at how Republicans have slowly chipped away at abortion rights – another form of necessary care that can be life-saving. 

Just yesterday South Dakora Republican lawmakers introduced a bill that would also ban doctors from performing gender-affirming surgeries or treatments on children. Similar bills have been filed in Texas, Georgia, and Kentucky. 

According to the Associated Press, “The Endocrine Society, which is the leading professional organization for doctors who specialize in hormones, does not recommend gender-transition medical treatment before puberty for children who do not identify with their biological gender. For youths experiencing puberty and older adolescents, the Endocrine Society recommends that a team composed of expert medical professionals and mental health professionals manages treatment.”

Opponents of these anti-trans bills believe the laws interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and contradict the widely accepted practices of the medical community. 

“Sadly, the medical care of transgender youth has been sensationalized and politicized,” Jack Turban, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, told NBC News. “Gender-affirming medical care for transgender adolescents is endorsed by major medical organizations, including the Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. It should go without saying, but providing standard medical care should not be a felony.”