Arab Americans ‘need to do more to balance relationship’ with African Americans 

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Updated 03 August 2023
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Arab Americans ‘need to do more to balance relationship’ with African Americans 

Arab Americans ‘need to do more to balance relationship’ with African Americans 
  • Equitable ties needed in Illinois, a leading Black legislator said on The Ray Hanania Radio Show sponsored by Arab News 
  • Illinois’ only two Muslim legislators, one who is Arab, should join the Black Caucus, said State Rep. Cyril Nichols 

CHICAGO: African Americans are perplexed that Arab Americans want to be identified as being “Middle East and North African” on the US Census yet fail to balance the support Blacks have given to the Arab community in the country, a leading Black legislator in Illinois said Wednesday. 

Illinois State Rep. Cyril Nichols — a member of the state’s large African-American legislative caucus of 21 members, which represents nearly one-third of the Democratic Party’s contingent — said African Americans support their counterparts twice as much in comparison to what they receive in return. 

During an interview on The Ray Hanania Radio Show, broadcast on the US Arab Radio Network in Detroit and Washington D.C. and sponsored by Arab News, Nichols said “an imbalance exists” and it “needs to change.”  

 

“When we work together, we can accomplish so much in a short amount of time. As you may know, about 70 percent of the gas stations in my district are owned by Arab Americans. We are not reinvested,” Nichols said.

“But the African-American community is reinvesting by doing business (with Arab businesses) in those areas where these gas stations (are located) and any other businesses for that matter. We in the African-American community are inclusive. We allow anyone to open up, be it Chinese food restaurants — it could be the gas stations, it could be cleaners. Oftentimes it is not African Americans that own these businesses. We just have to have a real conversation.” 

Asked to define the imbalance, Nichols said that on a scale of one to 10, African-American support of Arab Americans is at 10, while in return it is “an even five.” 

To achieve some “balance,” Nichols told Arab News he would convene a Town Hall-type meeting in October to bring the two communities together in Illinois. He said it should also be done in other areas with similar demographics. 

 

“When we are in our communities, because we don’t talk about it enough, because we want to bring in cultural identifiers that are not our culture, there are certain people who don’t want us to work together,” Nichols said, and expressed hope that Arab Americans and Muslims would attend. 

“When we work together, there is nothing we can’t do. There is literally nothing we can’t do. That is the way a community prospers, when people work together. Yes, there is not enough conversations. We should be meeting and convening weekly.” 

Nichols added: “We really need to bring people of leadership together, be it principals, be it business owners, be it clergy. We really need to come together, not to have a gripe session, but to have a real honest discussion with a solution. So, I don’t just want to come in and talk about nothing. I want to come in with a solution and develop legislation to support the solutions that we come up with. That’s the difference.” 

He said there was a long history of relations between Arab Americans and African Americans, citing several key milestones in this regard. 

In 1983, Chicago’s first Black mayor, Harold Washington, created the Advisory Commission on Arab Affairs, and placed several Arab Americans in key city positions, Nichols said. The commission was dismantled by former Jewish-American mayor, Rahm Emanuel, immediately after his election in 2011. 

Emanuel’s successors, former mayor Lori Lightfoot and incumbent Brandon Johnson, said they would reinstate the Arab Advisory Commission but this has not happened. 

In 1984 and 1988, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson gave Arab Americans roles in his attempts to become the Democratic Party candidate for president. Although Jackson did not win the party’s nomination on both occasions, Arab Americans won seats as convention delegates and had roles in defining the party’s national-issues plank. 

In 2022, Nichols introduced draft legislation seeking to recognize Arab Americans as a “minority group,” to qualify them for the Illinois Minority Business Enterprise system — that gives MBE members a first shot at up to 30 percent of the state’s annual contracts worth billions. This status has strengthened the businesses owned by Blacks, Hispanics, women and Asians, but Arab businesses have been left out. 

Nichols noted that instead of supporting the bill, which has not been signed into law yet, many Arab Americans were apathetic. 

“Both communities should be getting a lot more. If we work together we will, we will get a lot more. We have to work together. We have to stop some of these petty (people),” Nichols said, referring to individuals and groups that reject an inclusive approach. 

The 32nd District that Nichols represents has more than 120,000 residents, with a large Arab-American population on Chicago’s southwest side and various suburbs, including in Bridgeview where Arab immigrants built the state’s first prayer hall, the Mosque Foundation, in 1981. 

Last year, Nichols secured a state grant of $120,000 to support the Mosque Foundation’s Food Pantry which helps all needy families. 

Nichols said that nearly one-third of the state’s 78 Democrats in the 118-member Illinois General Assembly are African American and that only two members are Muslim — Nabeela Syed and Abdelnasser Rashid. 

Nichols said Rashid, who has Palestinian roots, and Syed, with Indian ancestry, should “absolutely” join the Black Caucus to address issues facing all the minority communities. 

 

“This is a very serious and real topic,” Nichols said. “When I look back and I think of this country, Black folk built this country. To think that our communities don’t work together more, then you are dealing with the idea of systemic racism, thinking that somehow your community is going to jump the Black community.  

“Our community has never thought of ourselves being first, second or third. We are just inclusive. And it is proven. We’re not making this up. It is proven. If we would just learn to work together and believe in what we worship, which is God, a lot of this stuff would not be issues. These issues we deal with are all man-made. These are not God-made issues. These are man-made issues,” Nichols said, adding that Blacks and Arabs can find common ground in terms of their religious beliefs and the struggle against racism. 

Nichols’ comments were made during an appearance on The Ray Hanania Radio Show broadcast Wednesday Aug. 2, 2023, in Detroit and Washington D.C. on the US Arab Radio Network and sponsored by Arab News. 

You can listen to the radio show’s podcast by visiting ArabNews.com/rayradioshow.


India’s capital sees first heat-related death this year, media reports

India’s capital sees first heat-related death this year, media reports
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India’s capital sees first heat-related death this year, media reports

India’s capital sees first heat-related death this year, media reports
  • India experiencing a severe heat wave conditions for weeks, and the temperature in Delhi reached a record high of 52.9 degrees Celsius
NEW DELHI: India’s capital Delhi recorded its first heat-related death this year as temperatures reached record highs, media reported on Thursday.
Parts of northwest and central India have been experiencing heat wave to severe heat wave conditions for weeks, and the temperature in Delhi reached a record high of 52.9 degrees Celsius in Mungeshpur neighborhood on Wednesday.
That reading may be revised however, as maximum temperatures in other parts of the city ranged from 45.2 C to 49.1 C.
The capital territory’s first heat-related fatality this year was a 40-year-old laborer who died of heatstroke on Wednesday, The Indian Express newspaper reported.
Delhi’s lieutenant governor on Wednesday directed the government to ensure measures were taken to protect laborers by providing water and shaded areas at construction sites and granting them paid leave from noon to 3 p.m.
Delhi recorded a temperature of 36 C which felt like 37.8 C on Thursday morning, according to India’s weather department. It has predicted heat wave to severe heat wave conditions over northwest and central India will begin reducing gradually from today.
India classifies a heat wave as a situation where the maximum temperature is 4.5 C to 6.4 C above normal, while a severe heat wave occurs when the maximum is higher than normal by 6.5 degrees or more.

NATO meets as pressure grows to let Ukraine hit Russia

NATO meets as pressure grows to let Ukraine hit Russia
Updated 1 min 30 sec ago
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NATO meets as pressure grows to let Ukraine hit Russia

NATO meets as pressure grows to let Ukraine hit Russia
  • The gathering in the Czech capital is meant to focus on efforts to support Ukraine at NATO’s summit in Washington in July
PRAGUE:NATO foreign ministers meet in Prague on Thursday in the face of growing calls for leading allies to lift restrictions stopping Kyiv from using Western weapons to strike inside Russia.
The two-day gathering in the Czech capital is meant to focus on efforts to hammer out a package of support for Ukraine at NATO’s summit in Washington in July.
But the swirling debate over whether to let Kyiv use arms sent by Western backers to strike inside Russia risks overshadowing the meeting.
Ukraine has been pressing its supporters — chiefly the United States — to allow it to use the longer-range weaponry they supply to hit targets inside Russia.
The United States and Germany have so far refused to permit Kyiv to strike over the border out of fear that it could drag them closer to direct conflict with Moscow.
Ahead of the NATO meeting — which starts with a dinner on Thursday — alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said repeatedly it was time for members to reconsider those limits as they hamper Kyiv’s ability to defend itself.
French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to shift the dial on Tuesday when he said Ukraine should be allowed to “neutralize” bases in Russia used to launch strikes.
German chancellor Olaf Scholz, however, remained less committal, saying Ukraine should act within the law — and Berlin had not supplied the weapons to hit Russia anyway.
Across the Atlantic, the White House said it still opposed Ukraine using US arms to strike inside Russia, although Secretary of State Antony Blinken hinted that that strategy could change.
Moscow, meanwhile, has reacted strongly — with President Vladimir Putin warning there would be “serious consequences” if Western countries give approval to Ukraine.
Those pressing for Ukraine to be given a freer rein say they hope momentum is building for the United States and others to change course as Kyiv struggles to stop Russia’s offensive in the Kharkiv region.
“Clearly president Macron’s ideas help allies who believe this rule should change,” said a diplomat from one NATO country.
“I hope the debates in the US will take Macron’s ideas into consideration.”


As NATO allies wrestle with that issue, ministers in Prague are also trying to come up with a support package that keeps Ukraine satisfied as its hopes of eventual membership remain a distant prospect.
After pressing hard at a summit last year, Kyiv has been told firmly by NATO countries — led by the United States and Germany — that it should not expect any concrete progress toward joining the alliance in Washington.
NATO chief Stoltenberg instead wants to get alliance members to make clear, multi-year commitments on how much aid they’ll give to Ukraine in the future.
Last month he floated an overall target figure of 100 billion euros ($108 billion) over five years, but that fell flat among allies confused over what it would involve.
“People understand you need to announce something, but they don’t just want it to be air,” the Western diplomat said.
Diplomats say debate is still ongoing as allies try to work out what any pledges would cover and how they might be structured.
One area where NATO does seem closer to agreement is a plan for the alliance to take over from the United States coordination of weapon supplies to Ukraine.
So far, Washington has been in charge as NATO has stayed clear of involvement in delivering arms due to worries it would incite Russia.
Proponents say making the alliance overall responsible could help insulate future deliveries against a possible return of Donald Trump to the US presidency.
But others fear it might just add more bureaucracy.
“The first hope is to not make it less effective than the current system,” a second Western diplomat said.
Diplomats say that to avoid opposition from Hungary — one of the friendliest countries to Russia in the alliance — Budapest has been given an “opt-out” not to be involved.

4 Pakistanis killed by Iranian border guards in remote southwestern region, Pakistani officials say

4 Pakistanis killed by Iranian border guards in remote southwestern region, Pakistani officials say
Updated 48 min 37 sec ago
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4 Pakistanis killed by Iranian border guards in remote southwestern region, Pakistani officials say

4 Pakistanis killed by Iranian border guards in remote southwestern region, Pakistani officials say
  • he incident happened near the border village of Mashkel in Baluchistan province on Wednesday

QUETTA: Iranian border guards opened fire at a vehicle carrying a group of Pakistanis, killing four people and wounding two others in a remote area in the southwest, Pakistani officials said Thursday.
The incident happened near the border village of Mashkel in Baluchistan province on Wednesday, local police said. Government administrator Sahibzada Asfand said it was unclear why the Iranian forces opened fire.
Local police say the bodies of the four men had been handed over to their families.
There was no immediate comment from Tehran or Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.
Security forces on both sides often arrest smugglers and insurgents who operate in the region. Pakistan in tit-for-tat strikes in January targeted alleged militant hideouts inside Iran, killing at least nine people in retaliation for a similar attack by Iran.


China could arrange Russia-Ukraine peace conference, Lavrov tells RIA

China could arrange Russia-Ukraine peace conference, Lavrov tells RIA
Updated 30 May 2024
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China could arrange Russia-Ukraine peace conference, Lavrov tells RIA

China could arrange Russia-Ukraine peace conference, Lavrov tells RIA
  • Russia has repeatedly called for talks with a precondition that Kyiv and the West recognize its territorial gains in Ukraine
  • Lavrov criticized the United States for aiding Ukraine, which Russian invaded in February 2022

China could arrange a peace conference in which Russia and Ukraine would participate, the RIA news agency cited Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Thursday.
Lavrov said such a move would be a continuation of Beijing’s efforts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis.
“We share (China’s) position that the root causes of the conflict need to be addressed in the first place and legal interests of all parties need to be protected, with subsequent agreements based on the principle of equal and indivisible security,” Lavrov said in an interview with the agency.
“Let me underscore again, this entails respecting realities on the ground, which reflect the will of people living there.”
Russia has repeatedly called for talks with a precondition that Kyiv and the West recognize its territorial gains in Ukraine. Kyiv has rejected those proposals.
Lavrov criticized the United States for aiding Ukraine, saying Washington has become “an accomplice in the crimes of the Kyiv regime.” In the Middle East, Lavrov said, the United States was also “fanning the flames of conflict.”

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, left, greets one of the Ukrainian soldiers who are being trained here on the Patriot ground-based air defense system at a military training area in the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on  May 29, 2024. (dpa via AP)

 

 

 

 

 

 


‘Are you with me?’ Biden and Harris launch Black voter outreach and warn of a second Trump term

‘Are you with me?’ Biden and Harris launch Black voter outreach and warn of a second Trump term
Updated 30 May 2024
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‘Are you with me?’ Biden and Harris launch Black voter outreach and warn of a second Trump term

‘Are you with me?’ Biden and Harris launch Black voter outreach and warn of a second Trump term
  • Speaking at Girard College, which has a predominantly Black student body, Biden argued that an “unhinged” Trump is peddling misinformation in an effort to win back the White House

PHILADELPHIA: President Joe Biden renewed his election-year pitch to Black voters on Wednesday, lashing out at Donald Trump’s “MAGA lies” and saying the winner of this year’s White House race will make crucial decisions, including on nominees for the Supreme Court, that could affect the country for decades.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, in a joint appearance at a Philadelphia boarding school, thanked Black voters in Pennsylvania and beyond for being the lynchpin to their 2020 victory and they made the case that their agenda has had an enormous impact on improving lives for Black voters.
The Democratic president also argued that an “unhinged” Trump is peddling misinformation in an effort to win back the White House.
“I’ll be damned if I’m going to let Donald Trump turn America into a place of anger, resentment and hate,” Biden said, calling on the crowd to help him and Harris win a second term. “My question is a simple one: Are you with me?”
At Girard College, which has a predominantly Black student body, Biden warned about the threat he said a second Trump presidency would pose and cited some of the racial controversies fanned by the presumptive Republican nominee during his life.
“This is the same guy who wanted to tear gas you as you peacefully protested George Floyd’s murder. The same guy who still calls the Central Park Five guilty, even though they were exonerated,” Biden told the crowd. “He’s that landlord who denies housing applications because of the color of your skin.”
The Philadelphia visit was the start of what the Biden campaign describes as a summerlong effort to engage Black student organizations, community groups and faith centers. It reflects in part how much of their support of him has frayed as Trump aims to make inroads into the longtime Democratic constituency.
The issue of abortion rights and the judiciary also featured in the remarks from Biden and Harris. Biden pledged to codify the protections of Roe vs. Wade, the now-nullified Supreme Court decision that had legalized the right to an abortion, if he and enough Democratic lawmakers are elected, while Harris noted that Trump dramatically shaped the Supreme Court as she invoked the name of Thurgood Marshall, the high court’s first Black justice.
Trump, she said, “handpicked three members of the Supreme Court — the court of Thurgood — with the intention that they would overturn Roe vs. Wade,” the landmark abortion rights ruling. “And as he intended, they did.”
“Who sits in the White House matters,” she said.
Underscoring that point later, Biden said the next president is “going to be able to appoint a couple justices.” With some vacancies on the Supreme Court, Biden said he could “put in really progressive judges, like we’ve always had.”
“Tell me that won’t change your life,” he said.
Among Black adults, Biden’s approval has dropped from 94 percent when he started his term to just 55 percent, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll published in March.
The economy has been a particular thorn in Biden’s side since 2022, when inflation hit a 40-year high. But there have also been signs of discontent in the Black community more recently over Biden’s handling of the seven-month Israel-Hamas war.
Turning out Black voters could prove pivotal for Biden’s chances in what’s expected to be among the most closely contested states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Biden beat Trump in all six states in 2020, but he could face a more difficult climb this year.
Trump has been offering himself as a better president for Black voters than Biden. At a rally last week in the Bronx, he railed against Biden on immigration and said “the biggest negative impact” of the influx of migrants in New York is “against our Black population and our Hispanic population who are losing their jobs, losing their housing, losing everything they can lose.”
The Republican National Committee zeroed in on gas prices and food costs under Biden’s presidency as it attacked his stop in Pennsylvania.
“No matter how much Biden lies, he cannot gaslight Pennsylvanians into supporting him — his approval ratings are abysmal,” RNC Chair Michael Whatley said. “President Trump continues to lead in polls in Pennsylvania and across the country. Pennsylvanians are ready to Make America Great Again, and they will vote for President Donald J. Trump in November.”
The Biden campaign wants to use the new engagement effort in part to remind Black voters of some of the Democratic administration’s achievements during his term. On Wednesday, Biden repeated the refrain “because you voted” as he rattled off a litany of his accomplishments for Black Americans, including record funding for historically Black colleges and universities, forgiveness of federal student loan debt and pardons for simple possession of marijuana.
“Black voters placed enormous faith in me,” Biden said. “I’ve tried to do my best to honor that trust.”
Biden later visited with Black business owners at SouthSide, an event space, and greeted supporters there while continuing to tout his accomplishments for Black voters and, in particular, the economic gains under his presidency. In the more intimate gathering, jointly hosted by the African-American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, he also stressed to the crowd that “there’s not a damn thing that a white man can do that a Black man can’t do, or do better.”
The Black unemployment rate sits at 5.6 percent, according to the latest federal government data, compared with an average of about 8 percent from 2016 to 2020 and 11 percent from 2000 to 2015. Black household wealth has surged, and Biden’s effort to cancel billions in student loan debt has disproportionately affected Black borrowers.
Biden also points to his appointment of Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black female justice on the US Supreme Court and his pick of Harris as the first Black woman to serve as vice president.
The president’s visit to Philadelphia follows a series of engagements with Black community members in recent weeks, including hosting plaintiffs in the 1954 Supreme Court decision that struck down institutionalized racial segregation in public schools, a commencement address at Morehouse College in Atlanta, and a virtual address to the Rev. Al Sharpton’s racial justice conference.