Things That Matter

Trump Plans To Label Mexican Drug Cartels As Terror Organizations, Here’s Why That’s Such A Big Deal

According to the dictionary, a terrorist is “a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” The FBI separates terrorism in two catagories: international terrorism which they define as”violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups who are inspired by, or associated with, designated foreign terrorist organizations or nations.”

Then there’s domestic terrorism, which the FBI notes is “violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.” We like to clearly define what the word means, especially to the government, because there’s a new type of affiliation that will be incorporated into those categories. 

Donald Trump, President of the United States, says that the Mexican cartel will be designated as terrorists. 

During an interview last night with former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly, Trump said he would be designating the Mexican cartel as terrorists,  which would give the U.S. more authority in Mexico and also in how they prosecute cartel criminals in the U.S. 

O’Reilly asked him, “you will be hitting them with drones?” and Trump responded by saying, “I won’t say what I’m going to be doing but…I’ve already offered [Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador] to let us go in and clean it out and he so far has rejected the offer but at some point something has to be done.”

He added, “They will be designated… I have been working on that for the last 90 days. You know designation is not that easy, you have to go through a process, and we are well into that process.”

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard responded to Trump’s words by saying they cooperate with the U.S., but as of now, the Mexican government will be dealing with the cartels in their country. 

“Mutual respect is the basis for cooperation,” Ebrard said, according to the BBC. López Obrador said a similar statement during his daily press conference. He said, “Our problems will be solved by Mexicans. We don’t want any interference from any foreign country.”

The move by Trump comes less than a month after nine family members were gunned down in Mexico. While those that were killed lived in Mexico, they were U.S. citizens. 

Trump vowed back then that he would take action. He tweeted, “If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters, the United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively. The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!”

López Obrador declined Trump’s offer in assistance, saying, “This is a matter of our sovereignty,” according to the Washington Post. 

According to the BBC, if the Mexican cartel is indeed designated as terrorists, the implication could affect people in the U.S. that are found to have ties to them. 

“When a group is designated as a terrorist organization in the U.S., it becomes illegal for people in the U.S. to knowingly offer support,” the BBC reports. “Its members are also banned from entering the U.S. If they are already in the U.S., they face being deported.”

We have already seen repercussions of that already in many ways. For example, one of the most famous drug lords of all-time was tried and found guilty in the U.S. Yes, we’re talking about El Chapo. Earlier this year, his trial, which was held in Brooklyn. The U.S. was able to have El Chapo extradited to the U.S. on charges that he and his operation exported drugs to the U.S. from Mexico. 

“[El Chapo]’s destructive and murderous rise as an international narcotics trafficker is akin to a small cancerous tumor that metastasized and grew into a full-blown scourge that for decades littered the streets of Mexico with the casualties of violent drug wars over turf,” Robert Capers, Brooklyn’s U.S. Attorney said in 2017 to NBC News

While Trump may have ambitious ideas about who will be proclaimed a terrorist, as he said himself, it will be a process. 

Trump, who is known to have many ideas, is typically rejected due to illegal logistics or uninformed knowledge. If Mexico’s president doesn’t comply with Trump’s request and the U.S. sends military or attacks Mexico in any way over issues of drugs, well, that could lead to an enormous consequence. It’s interesting to note that Trump would seek to declare the Mexican cartel terrorists but yet he refrains from calling white mass shooters domestic terrorists, even though officials do refer to them as such.  

READ: Mexican Authorities Think The Mormon Family Was Murdered Because A Drug Lord Thought They Were A Rival Gang

Witnesses From Third Day Of Impeachment Hearings Offer Information Defending And Implicating Trump

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Witnesses From Third Day Of Impeachment Hearings Offer Information Defending And Implicating Trump

PBS NewsHour / YouTube

Day three of the public impeachment hearings offered few positives for President Trump as the House Intelligence Committee heard from four more witnesses on Tuesday. The first part of the hearing featured vivid testimonies from two key witnesses, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official who heard President Trump’s call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, and Jennifer Williams, a foreign policy adviser to Vice President Mike Pence. The later part of the day was devoted to two witnesses called forth by Republicans, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Kurt Volker and former Trump foreign policy adviser Tim Morrison.

Unlike previous witnesses in the impeachment investigation, three of the four individuals who testified on Tuesday actually listened in on the July 25th phone call with Trump and Zelensky. All of them expressed serious concerns with President Trump’s phone call and spoke at length about the implications of his conversation with Zelensky. They say Trump used foreign policy to benefit his reelection campaign by using military aid in an effort to force Ukraine to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden. 

One of the most pivotal moments on Tuesday was the testimony from Lt. Col. Vindman who said that the phone call was “improper” and was concerned.

 The Iraq War veteran called out Trump saying that he acted out of duty and told a senior lawyer at the National Security Council about his concerns.

 “Without hesitation, I knew that I had to report this to the White House counsel,” Vindman said. “I had concerns and it was my duty to report my concerns to the proper people in the chain of command.”

 Vindman told committee members that he found many of the things that Trump discussed in the phone as troublesome. He implied that Trump could do further damage to both Ukraine’s efforts to establish itself as an independent nation as well as the national security of the United States.

“It was improper for the president to request to demand an investigation into a political opponent,” Vindman said. “This would have significant implications if it became public knowledge…It would undermine our Ukraine policy. It would undermine our national security.”

Republicans countered by questioning Vindman and his political standing throughout his testimony. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the head Republican on the Intelligence Committee, repeatedly jabbed at Vindman asking him if he could identify the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint helped trigger the impeachment proceedings. 

There was even some shots taken at Vindman from the White House’s social media page that tried to discredit his testimony. Vindman affirmed his loyalty to the U.S. and dismissed the idea that he was a “never-trumper”.  

“I’m an American,” Vindman said. “I came here when I was a toddler and I immediately dismissed these offers. Did not entertain them…the whole notion is rather comical.”

Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, who also listened to the July 25 phone call, said it was “unusual and inappropriate.”

Credit: @KyleGriffin1 / Twitter

Williams said she found the president’s call unusual because it included discussion of a “domestic political matter.” She said that she wasn’t sure why aid was being withheld from Ukraine. Williams couldn’t recall any national security official in the U.S government who supported the decision to withhold the security aid for Ukraine. 

“I found the July 25 phone call unusual because, in contrast to other presidential calls I had observed, it involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter,” Williams testified. 

President Trump took to Twitter to attack Williams and her testimony. “Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read BOTH transcripts of the presidential calls, & see the just-released statement from Ukraine. Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know & mostly never even heard of, & work out a better presidential attack!”

Throughout the day Republicans attempted to discredit witnesses and testimonies. 

Committee Republicans quickly took to criticizing testimonies throughout the day claiming that Vindman and Williams were simply giving his personal opinion about the phone call. President Trump also chimed in on the hearings throughout the day portraying Vindman as a liar and a Democratic pawn. 

This seems to be continuing theme during the first few days of these hearings and show no sign of stopping anytime soon.  If these are the best defenses Trump and fellow committee republicans can come up, there is trouble on the way when it comes to a vote against impeachment.

READ: Democratic Presidential Candidate Julián Castro Discusses The Primary Process, DACA, And The Legacy Of His Campaign

A New Restaurant Called Immigrant Food Just Opened Up Steps From The White House And We Stan

Things That Matter

A New Restaurant Called Immigrant Food Just Opened Up Steps From The White House And We Stan

ImmigrantFood / Instagram

Sometimes we read a news story that just makes us exclaim: “Wow, these people are seriously shading like a boss! Damn!”

Humor and directness are great assets when it comes to political activism. When it comes to confronting anti-immigration views with elegance and wisdom, one of the best strategies is actually showcasing the richness of multiculturalism and the vast benefits to local culture that diversity brings. 

Introducing Immigrant Food, a literal melting pot of deliciousness from all around the globe

Credit: immigrantfood / Instagram

The restaurant, located at 1701 Pennsylvania Avenue, D.C.,  brings fusion cuisine to a new level, in unexpected ways that defy culinary conventions. For example, pickled platanitos on a Vietnamese noodle salad. One of the staples of Latino food, the humble banana is given a German treatment and thrown into a Southeast Asian dish. The restaurant’s mantra is simple: “We celebrate America’s story — the story of immigrants”. Amen! Take that, bullies! 

Chef Enrique Limardo and political activist Peter Schechter have taken adventurous paths and basically mixes dishes that have nothing to do with each other…until now.

Credit: immigrantfood / Instagram

Diversity is at the core of the new restaurant, which seems to be a sort of cachetada con guante blanco to those who refuse to admit that any healthy democracy needs cultural diversity. As Forbes reports: “Immigrant Food is the brainchild of political activist Peter Schechter who refers to this dining concept as more “cause casual” than fast-casual”.

So yes, it is food with a cause… and the cause is reminding us that diversity is at the core of any democratic society. Schechter told Forbes: “Rather than having a great business that then gives a portion of the profits as an afterthought to a cause, our cause is baked into our business model. We wouldn’t function without the cause.” As reported by CNN, Schechter is no spring chicken in political spheres, being described as “a seasoned political consultant and veteran of Washington’s think tank scene”. 

Just look at this symphony of colors and flavors: Ethiopia meets El Salvador!

Credit: immigrantfood / Instagram

At first sight the food from African and Central American countries have very little to do with each other, but if you think about it there is more in common that one might think. Ethiopian food is a delicious mix of grains, beans and sauces, and Salvadorian cuisine shares many of these core ingredients. Ethiopians and Salvadorians are two of the most vivid and active migrant groups in recent years. BTW, this is the Columbia Bowl and it looks just delish.

As chef Limardo told CNN in regards to how this dish came into existence: “I came up with the idea that we can use the berbere spice that is very common in Ethiopian food, and then in Salvadoran (food) they make a dressing that is made from pepita seeds. And the combination of both, it’s something that is unbelievable. Starting from that point, I just think that everything can be matched, if you’re using the right amount, and if you go back in history, and try to find the right spot to connect” . And it is right spot to connect that we all have to strive for, not only in food but also in life in multicultural societies.

The menu will change constantly and feature fusion dishes based on the traditions of 40 countries.

The menus will be supported by NGOs such as the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, Ayuda, the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, CARECEN and CASA. The menus will reflect the needs of the associated NGOs and basically speak to the causes of the time through culinary expression. In off-hours the restaurant is used as a space for these organizations to organize events such as meetings and English classes. Clients are also invited to make a donation when they pay the bill, and the sum is divided among the partner organizations. 

Seriously, can we please eat some of these platillos espectaculares.

Credit: immigrantfood / Instagram

We really hope that this restaurant remains open for a long, long time, and that others are inspired by the operation and message of what could very well become a Washington D.C. icon. After all, immigrants are deeply attached to the food and hospitality industries in the United States.

It is immigrants who sudan la gota gorda harvesting the fields, it is immigrants who bring their dishes and mix them with ingredients from other parts of the world (other than Native American dishes, no food is totally endemic to the country), it is immigrants who work in the kitchens as cooks, and it is increasingly immigrants such as top Mexican chef Enrique Olvera who are dictating the pace and trends in the industry. Immigrant Food is sort of stating the wonderful obvious: immigrants enrich any society through hard work and creativity.

As Schechter, the mastermind behind Immigrant Food and who is himself a product of Austrian and German migration told CNN: “This isn’t the America I recognize… Somehow it has become normal to disparage, to feel you can talk down to immigrants, like immigrants are not good for this country. Immigrants have been the foundation of growth and vibrancy. This country has been great again and again and again because of immigrants”. Preach!