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‘Terrible. Terrible. I don’t make any money’: Washington DC food trucks feel the bite from government shutdown

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Looking out from her food truck over a sidewalk left empty in downtown Washington on Friday by the U.S. government’s partial shutdown, Farida Abou Draa said she felt like crying.

“My business is to make people happy, to give them something to eat, to see their smiles,” said Abou Draa, 38. “There is no people to make happy today.”

Food truck operators are among the many non-government workers suffering as a result of the shutdown.

On a typical day, the block in view of the U.S. Capitol where she parks her truck, the Corn Factory, bustles with federal workers. She had not made a single sale of her Venezuelan and Mexican fare by noon on Friday.

Since the shutdown began two weeks ago, some of the more than 400 food trucks that operate in the city and depend upon a steady stream of hungry federal workers have struggled to keep their windows open. Many of the approximately 800,000 government workers who are either furloughed or working without pay are based in the nation’s capital.

“If the government shutdown keeps on moving forward, next week and the following week, I’ve got to close,” Abou Draa said. “I can’t pay my rent. I can’t pay (for) my food. I can’t pay my employees.”

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The ongoing shutdown stems from an impasse between congressional Democrats, who control the House of Representatives as of Thursday, and President Donald Trump, who is demanding funding for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico that he says is needed to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs into the United States.

On Friday, Trump told Democratic leaders he was willing to keep the government closed for “months or even years.”

“Terrible. Terrible. I don’t make any money,” said Moustafa Salem, the owner of the Habebe food truck.

He stood ready with his employees on Friday to serve meals at what normally would be peak lunchtime, but there was no line waiting for his Greek and Middle Eastern food.

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“We need money for my son in college,” Salem said. “I need money for myself, for rent, for gas, for employees.”

Nearby, Abou Draa said she had lost about $5,000 during what are already lean times in winter months, a difficult situation for the food truck owner with a 3-year-old daughter and a mortgage to pay.

“We’ll find a way to survive, and once it’s all back to normal we will be smiling again,” she said.

Reporting by Katharine Jackson; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Bill Berkrot

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Rep. Ted Lieu asks special counsel to bring the hammer down on Jared Kushner for Hatch Act violations

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Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) have asked the Office of Special Counsel to open an investigation into Jared Kushner for alleged violations of the Hatch Act.

According to the congressmen, Kushner violated the law by "engaging in prohibited campaign fundraising activities."

Reports have suggested that Kushner has used his official role in the White House to aid President Donald Trump's reelection effort.

NEW: @RepDonBeyer & @RepTedLieu ask Office of Special Counsel to investigate whether WH senior advisor Jared Kushner has violated Hatch Act by “engaging in prohibited campaign fundraising activities,” citing news reports Kushner used his official office to aid Trump's campaign.

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Heiress and designer, Gloria Vanderbilt dies at 95

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American heiress Gloria Vanderbilt, a designer and artist who became one of the most chronicled socialites of her era, died Monday, her son announced. She was 95 years old.

The great-great granddaughter of railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, she was thrust into the spotlight as the "poor little rich girl" at the center of a sensational custody battle in the 1930s, before finding fame in her own right for her line of designer blue jeans and it-girl fashion.

"Gloria Vanderbilt was an extraordinary woman, who loved life, and lived it on her own terms," her son, the popular CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, said in a tribute read on air.

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‘Black students don’t tip’: Texas restaurant says forcing African-American kids to pay gratuity is not racist

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A restaurant in Cypress, Texas has come under fire after an employee allegedly said that black students "don't tip."

Brittany Blakney told KPRC that she and her friends went to Locatelli’s restaurant to celebrate graduating from Prairie View A&M University.

Blakney said that she was surprised to find out that the server had already added a 15% gratuity to her check.

“He said, 'Black students from Prairie View don’t tip,'” she recalled.

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