Arab American woman in strong position to become Boston mayor

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Updated 09 September 2021

Arab American woman in strong position to become Boston mayor

Arab American woman in strong position to become Boston mayor
  • Since its founding in 1630, Boston has only elected white males as its chief executive officer
  • Currently, 65 percent of Boston’s population identifies as “people of color”

CHICAGO: Tunisian American politician Annissa Essaibi George is in a tight race to become a run-off finalist as the first female mayor of the US city of Boston, recent polling has shown.

Her late father, Ezzeddine, a Tunisian, met her Polish mother, Barbara, when they were studying in Paris. George said that the election season marked a critical moment for Boston not just in terms of electing its first woman mayor, but also possibly its first Arab American mayor.

Since its founding in 1630, Boston has only elected white males as its chief executive officer. That ended when Boston Mayor Marty Walsh left office in March to become labor secretary in US President Joe Biden’s administration.

Currently, 65 percent of Boston’s population identifies as “people of color,” and the four leading candidates to succeed Walsh are all women who are serving as members of the 11-member Boston City Council.

George was first elected as a citywide delegate-at-large to the council in 2015. Rival Michelle Wu, also a citywide delegate-at-large, held a slight lead over George in recent polling. The two other council members leading in the race are Kim Janey, the city council’s president who was named to fill Walsh’s vacancy, and Andrea Campbell.

In the Sept. 14 election, the top two vote-getters will continue on to the Nov. 2 general election. That election will be a critical turning point in Boston politics, as it is extremely likely that the next mayor will be a woman and possibly an Arab American.

 

George said: “Women are coming into their own power here in the city of Boston. Obviously the four of us come from the city council. It is about building bench strength and that is the bench, the city council in many ways has become the bench for the mayor’s office although mayors have come from the state legislature.

“Our former mayor, now Secretary Walsh, was a state representative prior to becoming mayor of the city. Before him, mayor (Thomas) Menino actually came from the city council. So, there is a little bit of a pipeline that we are able to cultivate.

“But women are becoming more involved in political life running for office and winning. And that has been a real shift especially over the last five years or so, or if you look a little further back 10 years you saw that tide begin to change.

“This is about women in public life. Women sort of taking the lead which is so important for women to do. But also, high-quality women candidates, that is also really important.

“You want the women in office because that is important. Representation in office. But you want the right woman in office. You want the woman that has the skillset and experiences to lead, and I believe that’s me. I think the voters of Boston, the residents of Boston, see that as well and that is why I have done so well in the polls,” she added.

George said her Tunisia-born father objected to her pursuing politics and encouraged her to become an educator and she was an educator and teacher at East Boston High School for 13 years before entering politics.

“When I was in high school here in Boston, I got engaged in student government. I became a member of my school student council. We have a citywide Boston student advisory council that does a lot of work, especially around education and student voice and all of that work,” she added.

 

“I said to my parents, and I said to my father specifically, that I am going to run for mayor of Boston. I’m 15, 16 years old at this point. My father was very direct and said an Arab girl with an Arab name will win nothing in this city. Consider a life in law. Go to business school. Do something else.

“And he was always my biggest cheerleader, my biggest supporter. He always encouraged me to strive and set high goals. But he just didn’t see a future for me in politics because of the city that he had come to. And his experience was not always an easy one being an immigrant to the city, being a foreigner, being an Arab, being a Muslim.”

The three male candidates in the race, Richard Spagnuolo, Robert Cappucci, and John Barros are all trailing far behind the four women, who also represent a wide racial diversity. George is Tunisian and Polish, Wu is Asian, and Campbell and Janey are African American.

George is recognized as the first and only Tunisian American to hold public office.

 

“The Arab population here in Boston is growing, but it is growing slowly. We see it in certain parts of our city. We don’t have a critical mass here in the city,” George said.

“So being an Arab comes up in some conversations that are more of an inquisition, an education, and an introduction to the Arab community, to the Tunisian population, and to the culture and the religion.

“We do have in Boston a very large Lebanese population and again in parts of our city they tend to be really great supporters in this race. As an Arab woman, engaging with them has been a lot of fun, sort of reconnecting in my own roots,” she added.

George’s husband Doug is part Albanian, and they have four sons.

George made her comments during an appearance on “The Ray Hanania Radio Show” which is broadcast on the US Arab Radio Network in Detroit and Washington, D.C., and is sponsored by Arab News. The interview is available in podcast format online at ArabNews.com.


Canadian wins 18th Chopin international piano competition

Canadian wins 18th Chopin international piano competition
Updated 11 sec ago

Canadian wins 18th Chopin international piano competition

Canadian wins 18th Chopin international piano competition

WARSAW, Poland: The jury of the 18th Frederic Chopin international piano competition has announced Bruce (Xiaoyu) Liu of Canada as the winner of the 40,000-euro ($45,000) first prize in the 18th Frederic Chopin international piano competition that launches pianists’ world careers.
The announcement came early Thursday, just hours after the last among the 12 finalists played a Chopin concerto with the orchestra at the packed National Philharmonic in Warsaw.

Bowing to their artistry, the 17-member jury allowed two more finalists this year than usual. The competition, held every five years, was postponed by a year due to the pandemic. 

Earlier, jury head Katarzyna Popowa-Zydron has said that apart from being excellent pianists, the participants should also show sensitivity and bring freshness to the music.

“I try to look for a rapport between the performer and Chopin,” Popowa-Zydron said in an interview early in the competition.
Music is a “message from a person and (the musicians) should know what kind of person Chopin was.”
Aside from Bruce (Xiaoyu) Liu, the other finalists were Leonora Armellini of Italy; J.J. Jun Li Bui of Canada; Alexander Gadjiev, representing Italy and Slovenia; Martin Garcia Garcia of Spain; Eva Gevorgyan representing Russia and Armenia; Jakub Kuszlik and Kamil Pacholec of Poland; Japan’s Aimi Kobayashi and Kyohei Sorita; China’s Hao Rao; and Hyuk Lee of South Korea.
Observers noted that the level of the competition was very high this year and said it’s difficult to pick a favorite to win.
All the finalists are “very outstanding artists,” said Aleksander Laskowski, spokesman for the Fryderyk Chopin Institute that organized the competition.
The winner will receive a gold medal and the financial prize funded by the office of Poland’s president, as well as prestigious recording and concert contracts.
The second prize is worth 30,000 euros ($35,000,) third prize is 20,000 euros ($23,000,) and the fourth is 15,000 euros ($17,000.) There are also prizes for the fifth, sixth and seventh place as well as other awards for the finalists, funded by Poland’s government, music institutions and by private donors.
Among previous winners are Maurizio Pollini of Italy, Argentina’s Martha Argerich, Garrick Ohlsson from the United States, Poland’s Krystian Zimerman and Artur Blechacz, and Seong-Jin Cho of South Korea.
Chopin, Poland’s best known and beloved classical music composer and pianist, was born in 1810 in Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw to a Polish mother and a French father. He left Poland at 19 to broaden his musical education in Vienna and then in Paris, where he settled, composing, giving concerts and teaching the piano. He died on Oct. 17, 1849, in Paris and is buried at the Pere Lachaise cemetery. His heart is at the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw.
The auditions can be followed live on the Chopin Institute YouTube channel and on Polish state radio.


Egyptian thief sets social media abuzz after swiping livestreaming reporter’s phone

Egyptian thief sets social media abuzz after swiping livestreaming reporter’s phone
Updated 20 October 2021

Egyptian thief sets social media abuzz after swiping livestreaming reporter’s phone

Egyptian thief sets social media abuzz after swiping livestreaming reporter’s phone

CAIRO: No one was unluckier on Tuesday from the thief who stole a reporter’s mobile phone which was being used to livestream a report on an earthquake in Egypt.

A reporter for Egyptian news outlet Youm7 was filming live when a man on a motorbike snatched his phone and sped away with it on his bike.

Viewers of the broadcast watched the incident as the phone’s camera was left recording, with the camera pointed up toward the thief’s face.

Youm7 has shared the Facebook live with the thief's face, saying "tens of thousands" of people were watching live as it was stolen.

Police identified and arrested the man on the same day.

Now social media platforms in Egypt have started buzzing with humorous commentary on the thief’s misfortune.

 

 

 


US train riders held up phones as woman was raped, police say

US train riders held up phones as woman was raped, police say
Updated 19 October 2021

US train riders held up phones as woman was raped, police say

US train riders held up phones as woman was raped, police say
  • Police say the people who recorded the attack and failed to intervene could possibly be charged
  • Arrest records show Fiston Ngoy, 35, was charged with rape and related offenses

PHILADELPHIA: A man charged with raping a woman on a commuter train just outside of Philadelphia harassed her for more than 40 minutes while multiple people held up their phones to seemingly record the assault without intervening, authorities said.
More than two dozen train stops passed as the man harassed, groped and eventually raped the woman, the police chief for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said at a news conference Monday.
Police do not believe a single witness on the train dialed 911. They are investigating whether some bystanders filmed the assault.
Both the man and woman got on the train at the same stop Wednesday night in North Philadelphia. Officers pulled the man off of the woman at the last stop. They responded within about three minutes of a 911 call from a transportation authority employee, authorities said.
“What we want is everyone to be angry and disgusted and to be resolute about making the system safer,” SEPTA Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III said at the news conference.
Arrest records show Fiston Ngoy, 35, was charged with rape and related offenses.
The affidavit of arrest for Ngoy detailed times of the assault, including that during those 40 minutes the woman appears to repeatedly push Ngoy away.
Nestel would not give an approximate number of witnesses and it was unclear from the affidavit how many passengers were present for those 40 minutes. Authorities have not released the surveillance video.
“I can tell you that people were holding their phone up in the direction of this woman being attacked,” he said.
Elizabeth Jeglic, a psychology professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, researches sexual violence prevention. She said if people feel uncomfortable physically intervening, there are other options like calling the police.
“When we have multiple people, people don’t necessarily intervene,” she said. “However, more recent research actually suggests that looking at video footage of more extreme circumstances that up to 90 percent of cases we do see people intervening. So it was actually somewhat of an aberration in this case that somebody did not step forward to help this individual.”
Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt, of the Upper Darby Police Department, has said surveillance footage showed other riders were on the train and someone “should have done something.” Messages for Bernhardt were left Monday.
The New York Times reported that Bernhardt said that people who recorded the attack and failed to intervene could possibly be charged, but that would be up to the Delaware County District Attorney’s office to determine.
There were no calls made to 911 in Philadelphia. Nestel said police were still waiting for Delaware County 911, which covers the last two train stops, to determine if it received any calls.
Investigators said in the affidavit that Ngoy sat down next to the woman about a minute after he boarded the train car, shortly after 9:15 p.m. The video shows her pushing him away multiple times until he is seen ripping her pants down at about 9:52 p.m.
Bernhardt said officers arrived at the 69th Street terminal on the Market-Frankford Line, the busiest route on SEPTA, around 10 p.m.
A SEPTA employee who was in the vicinity as the train went past called police to report that “something wasn’t right” with a woman aboard the train, Bernhardt said.
SEPTA police waiting at the next stop found the woman and arrested Ngoy, who they had pulled off of the woman. She was taken to a hospital.
According to the court documents, the woman told police that Ngoy ignored her pleas to go away.
Ngoy claimed in his statement to police that he knew the victim, but couldn’t remember her name and said the encounter was consensual.
Ngoy, who listed his last address as a homeless shelter, remained in custody on $180,000 bail. His initial court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 25. Court records show he had not requested a public defender as of Monday.
SEPTA issued a statement calling it a “horrendous criminal act” and urged anyone witnessing such a thing to report it to authorities by calling 911, pressing an emergency button on every train car or using the authorities emergency safety app.
“There were other people on the train who witnessed this horrific act, and it may have been stopped sooner if a rider called 911,” the authority said.

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Haute cuisine: Lebanon has the most expensive McDonald’s menu in the world

Haute cuisine: Lebanon has the most expensive McDonald’s menu in the world
Updated 20 October 2021

Haute cuisine: Lebanon has the most expensive McDonald’s menu in the world

Haute cuisine: Lebanon has the most expensive McDonald’s menu in the world

BEIRUT: Looking to flex your deep pockets for a hot date? Perhaps impress some swanky onlookers by enjoying an expensive meal? Well, look no further, as McDonald’s Lebanon — the world’s most expensive — is the place to go.

According to a new study by Expensivity, a financial aggregator website, the crisis-ridden, tiny Mediterranean country boasts the most expensive McDonald’s menu — setting consumers back as much as $44.45 for a Big Mac meal with a large fries and a large coke.

Opting to get around the big price tag for a big meal? A kid’s meal — known as a happy meal — goes for $21.89; also the most expensive happy meal in the world.

These exorbitant prices comes as Lebanon experiences an unprecedented economic and financial crisis, with its local currency having lost over 80 percent of its value on the black market, and inflation at an all-time high. Food and medicine shortages in supermarkets and pharmacies have become familiar sights as the country’s latest government attempts to handle the situation.

In an ironic twist, Lebanon was the holder of the world’s cheapest Big Mac in July when it cost just $1.68 for those earning anything but Lebanese pounds, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Now, however, the American fast food chain’s best-seller goes for $21.89. Many, then, will decide to go for the locally-sourced and cheaper shawarma to quell their fast food appetite.

The infographics in this article were originally published by Expensivity.


Assad’s cousin boasts Ferrari and Israeli girlfriend in US while Syrians continue suffering

Assad’s cousin boasts Ferrari and Israeli girlfriend in US while Syrians continue suffering
Updated 17 October 2021

Assad’s cousin boasts Ferrari and Israeli girlfriend in US while Syrians continue suffering

Assad’s cousin boasts Ferrari and Israeli girlfriend in US while Syrians continue suffering
  • This is not the first time the Makhloufs’ lavish lifestyles, and their business ties to the Assad regime, have come to light

LONDON: A viral video showing Syrian President Bashar Assad’s millionaire cousin Ali Makhlouf cruising around Los Angeles in his $300,000 Ferrari 488 Spider has highlighted the stark divisions in a war-torn country where many people do not have enough to eat.

The video, which was apparently caught randomly, showed popular vlogger Daniel Mac standing near a traffic light in LA when Makhlouf rolled by in his luxurious car alongside his Israeli model girlfriend Michal Idan.

As per Mac’s standard, he asked Makhlouf what he did for a living, to which the latter replied that he worked, before saying that he was at an internship after further playful prodding by the vlogger. At the end, he said that the car was a rental before driving off.

What is even more telling is that Makhlouf is seemingly dating an Israeli model.

Syria’s Golan Heights have been occupied by the Israelis for years; the US recognized them as Israeli in 2019. And Israel has continuously attacked Iranian troops and Iran’s proxies across Syria with fighter jets, and so Makhlouf’s dealing with — even dating — the enemy could be regarded as treason.

Past lavish living

This is not the first time the Makhloufs’ lavish lifestyles, and their business ties to the Assad regime, have come to light. However, ties between Assad and his cousin, Rami Makhlouf — Ali’s father — are said to be strained after the US-sanctioned Syrian businessman revealed last year that he had set up a web of offshore front companies to help Assad evade Western sanctions.

Strained or not, the Makhloufs’ splurging has repeatedly caught the media’s eye and placed them under severe scrutiny, with Ali seemingly lacking any sense of moral responsibility when posting items on his social media accounts.

During the pandemic, Ali took to his Instagram account to show a video of him celebrating his birthday in Dubai by blowing out a cake in front of at least four MacBooks and two iPads — one for each of his friends beaming in via Zoom.

Other posts to his page include collections of luxury cars, mansions and even a couple of jet skis.

The average Syrian earns between $70 and $130 per month and, with the country still reeling from its decades-long war and with Assad firmly in power, this may not be the last the world hears of Makhlouf’s lavish spending.