Arab Americans can ‘go to another country’ if they oppose US policy: Chicago suburb mayor

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Updated 06 February 2024
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Arab Americans can ‘go to another country’ if they oppose US policy: Chicago suburb mayor

Arab Americans can ‘go to another country’ if they oppose US policy: Chicago suburb mayor
  • At board meeting, Orland Park residents present petition urging ceasefire resolution for Gaza
  • ‘Turning down this very basic humanitarian ask is directly sending a message that you don’t value the lives of your Arab-American or Muslim constituents’

Orland Park, IL: The mayor of Orland Park, a Chicago suburb, told Arab Americans who urged the village board on Monday to approve a ceasefire resolution for Gaza that they can “go to another country” if they do not like US government policy.

“First and foremost I’m an American. I’m not a German American, I’m an American. That’s where my allegiances lie. Period. Dot. End of story,” Keith Pekau told Arab Americans who attended a board meeting that was recorded and broadcast live on YouTube.

“And if you’re an American citizen and you don’t feel that way, then in my opinion, you’re entitled to that opinion, but you can certainly go and fight, go to another country and support that country, and all the power to you if you chose to do that,” he said.

“But as long as I’m an American, and I am, I’ve taken several oaths to support and defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. I’ll always support America’s interests.”

Orland Park has a large Palestinian-American population and one of the region’s newest and largest mosques, the Orland Prayer Center.

Several speakers at the meeting presented a petition they said was signed by more than 800 Orland Park residents calling for the adoption of a ceasefire resolution, and calmly detailed why the board should act.

They noted that the board had previously approved a resolution supporting Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.

“Tonight, we gather not just as community members but as voices for humanitarian action. We’re urging the village of Orland Park to adopt a resolution for a ceasefire in Gaza. With almost 30,000 dead, 1.9 million people displaced, the people of Gaza are being starved, cut from food, electricity, water and fuel,” said the first speaker, Yousef Zegar, who described himself as “a lifelong Orland Park resident.”

He added: “What side of history does Orland Park want to stand on? The side that did nothing, or the side that had compassion for innocents?

“Presented here in my hands is a petition of support for what we’re asking for today. We’ve collected over 800 signatures supporting our ask from your local constituents.

“I’d like to remind you all that you’re elected by the people and are supposed to represent the people.”

Zegar said the community just wants to be heard in Orland Park. “In the past, Orland Park has raised awareness and funds for the victims of Ukraine. There are far more Palestinians in Orland Park than Ukrainians,” he added.

“By adopting this resolution, it also sends a message to the community that we as a village stand against hate.

“Islamophobia is on the rise and hate crimes have taken place here, even locally, all because of misinformation.

“Turning down this very basic humanitarian ask is directly sending a message that you don’t value the lives of your Arab-American or Muslim constituents.”

Chicago adopted a resolution on Jan. 31 calling for a “humanitarian ceasefire” and “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages,” referencing more than 100 Israelis still being held by Hamas. 

Zegar said similar resolutions have been adopted by hundreds of cities across the US, including San Francisco, to which Pekau replied: “I’ll tell you what, I’m in Orland Park. I don’t want to look anything like (Chicago) and San Francisco. If that’s how you want to live, go live there because Orland Park ain’t it.”

Pekau said while there was community unity on Ukraine, “Orland Park residents are highly divided on this issue of the Middle East and we’re not going to get involved ... I see no reason to currently demand a ceasefire.”

Attendees said they would raise their concerns again on Feb. 10 at a “breakfast with the mayor” that Pekau hosts each month at the Village Hall.


Biden is cutting short a beach weekend to meet with his national security team amid Mideast tensions

Biden is cutting short a beach weekend to meet with his national security team amid Mideast tensions
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Biden is cutting short a beach weekend to meet with his national security team amid Mideast tensions

Biden is cutting short a beach weekend to meet with his national security team amid Mideast tensions
Soon after the White House announced the change of plans, the Pentagon reported that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had spoken with his Israeli counterpart
Amid the Israel-Hamas war, tensions have escalated since a suspected Israeli strike this month on an Iranian consular building in Syria

DELAWARE, USA: President Joe Biden is cutting short a weekend stay at his Delaware beach house and returning to the White House on Saturday to meet with his national security team and monitor the situation in the Middle East.
Soon after the White House announced the change of plans, the Pentagon reported that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had spoken with his Israeli counterpart “to discuss urgent regional threats ... and made clear that Israel could count on full US support to defend Israel against any attacks by Iran and its regional proxies.
Amid the Israel-Hamas war, tensions have escalated since a suspected Israeli strike this month on an Iranian consular building in Syria killed 12 people, including senior Iranian generals. Israel is bracing for a possible Iranian attack, raising concerns about the United States being pulled into deeper regional conflict.
Biden on Friday said the United States was “devoted” to defending Israel and that “Iran will not succeed.”
Asked by reporters what his message was for Iran, the president’s only reply was: “Don’t.”
He ignored a question about what would trigger a direct US military response, and when asked how imminent an Iranian attack on Israel was, Biden said he did not want to get into secure information, “but my expectation is sooner than later.”
During the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, there have been near-daily exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group along the Israel-Lebanon border. US officials have recorded more than 150 attacks by Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria on US forces at bases in those countries since war started on Oct. 7.
One attack in late January killed three US service members in Jordan. In retaliation, the US launched a massive air assault, hitting more than 85 targets at seven locations in Iraq and Syria.
Meantime, on Saturday, commandos from Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard rappelled from a helicopter onto an Israeli-affiliated container ship near the Strait of Hormuz and seized the vessel.
National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the US strongly condemned the seizure and urged Iran to release the ship and crew immediately.
“We will work with our partners to hold Iran to account for its actions,” she said.
Also Saturday, the Israeli-occupied West Bank also saw some of the worst violence since Hamas’ attack on Israel.

Germany to send new Patriot air defense system to Kyiv at ‘critical time’, Zelensky says

Germany to send new Patriot air defense system to Kyiv at ‘critical time’, Zelensky says
Updated 13 April 2024
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Germany to send new Patriot air defense system to Kyiv at ‘critical time’, Zelensky says

Germany to send new Patriot air defense system to Kyiv at ‘critical time’, Zelensky says
  • “I am grateful to the chancellor for the decision to supply another, additional Patriot system to Ukraine,” Zelensky said
  • He described their conversation as “important, productive” and said: “I call on all other leaders of partner states to follow this example“

KYIV: Germany will supply a US-made Patriot air defense system and air defense missiles to Ukraine at a “critical time” as Kyiv struggles to defend its energy system from Russian bombardment, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday.
More than two years into its full-scale invasion, Russia has staged three massive airstrikes on power stations and substations in recent weeks, prompting Kyiv to issue desperate appeals for supplies of high-end air defenses.
“I am grateful to the chancellor for the decision to supply another, additional Patriot system to Ukraine, as well as missiles for the existing air defense systems,” Zelensky said after speaking by telephone with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
He described their conversation as “important, productive” and said: “I call on all other leaders of partner states to follow this example.”
Germany will hand over the Patriot system immediately and it will be in addition to air defense systems that were already delivered and planned, the defense ministry said in a post on X.
An April 10 German government summary of arms and military equipment transfers to Ukraine included two Patriot systems on a list of air defense supplies already delivered, making this the third from Germany.
Zelensky said last week that Ukraine needed 25 US-made Patriot air defense systems to cover the country from Russian attacks.
In his statement on the Telegram app on Saturday, the Ukrainian leader said he and Scholz also discussed preparations for a reconstruction conference in Berlin and a peace summit in Switzerland in June.


Sydney knife attacker shot dead after killing 6 in Bondi mall

Sydney knife attacker shot dead after killing 6 in Bondi mall
Updated 13 April 2024
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Sydney knife attacker shot dead after killing 6 in Bondi mall

Sydney knife attacker shot dead after killing 6 in Bondi mall
  • Five of the six victims killed were women, while eight people were taken to hospital with stab wounds
  • Australia has some of world’s toughest gun and knife laws, attacks such as the one on Saturday are rare

SYDNEY: An attacker who fatally knifed six people in a Sydney mall was shot dead by police in the beachside suburb of Bondi on Saturday, police said, as hundreds fled the scene.
The assailant was shot by a police officer after he attacked shoppers in the busy Westfield Bondi Junction shopping center, police said in a statement.
Five of the six victims killed were women, while eight people, including a nine-month-old baby, were taken to hospital with stab wounds, New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb told a press conference.
Police at this stage do not believe the attack was terrorism-related, Webb said.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said there was no indication yet of the man’s motive.
“This was a horrific act of violence, indiscriminately targeting innocent people going about an ordinary Saturday doing their shopping,” he told a press conference.
“Tonight the first thoughts of all Australians are with the victims of these terrible acts.”
Australia has some of the world’s toughest gun and knife laws, and attacks such as the one on Saturday are rare.
’ON THE RAMPAGE’
Emergency services were called to the mall, about three kilometers (1.9 miles) from Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach and popular with children and families, just before 4 p.m. (0600 GMT) after the stabbing reports, police said.
Ayush Singh, 25, was working in a cafe in the mall when he saw the attack and then heard gunshots as police responded.
“I saw the guy with the knife running and chasing people. As he walked just past beside me I heard two or three gunshots and the guy was neutralized,” he told Reuters.
“People around me were terrified. There were some old ladies I helped to get them inside a safe place inside the cafe.”
Two other witnesses told Reuters they heard shots.
“Even 20 minutes after people were rushed out of the mall, I saw SWAT teams of people sweeping the surrounding streets,” one witness said.
The other witness said they saw a woman lying on the ground and took shelter in a jewelry store.
An eyewitness described the police officer shooting the attacker to state broadcaster ABC.
“If she did not shoot him, he would have kept going, he was on the rampage,” said the man, who did not give his name. “She went over and was giving him CPR. He had a nice big blade on him. He looked like he was on a killing spree.”
Several posts on social media showed crowds fleeing the mall and police cars and emergency services rushing to the area.
The mall will remain closed on Sunday while an investigation continues, police said.


Ukraine’s army chief says eastern front under intense Russian assault

Ukraine’s army chief says eastern front under intense Russian assault
Updated 13 April 2024
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Ukraine’s army chief says eastern front under intense Russian assault

Ukraine’s army chief says eastern front under intense Russian assault
  • Syrskyi said he traveled to the area to stabilize the front as Russian assault groups using tanks and armored personnel carriers took advantage of dry, warm weather
  • “This is linked primarily to the significant activization of offensive action by the enemy after the presidential elections in Russia,” he wrote on the Telegram app

KYIV: Ukraine’s army chief said on Saturday the situation on the eastern front had worsened in recent days as Russia has intensified its armored assaults and battles rage for control of a village west of the devastated city of Bakhmut.
The statement by Col. General Oleksandr Syrskyi more than two years since Russia’s invasion reflected the grim mood in Kyiv as vital US military aid that Kyiv expected to receive months ago remains stuck in Congress.
Syrskyi said he traveled to the area to stabilize the front as Russian assault groups using tanks and armored personnel carriers took advantage of dry, warm weather that has made it easier to maneuver.
“The situation on the eastern front in recent days has grown considerably more tense. This is linked primarily to the significant activization of offensive action by the enemy after the presidential elections in Russia,” he wrote on the Telegram app.
Since President Vladimir Putin won a new term in a stage-managed mid-March election, Russia has stepped up its attacks on Ukraine and unleashed three massive aerial strikes on its energy system, pounding power plants and substations.
The slowdown in military assistance from the West has left Ukraine more exposed to aerial attacks and heavily outgunned on the battlefield. Kyiv has made increasingly desperate appeals for supplies of air defense missiles in recent weeks.
Moscow’s forces, Syrskyi said, were taking significant losses during their attacks in the east, but were also making tactical gains.
Social media channels reported the fall of Ukraine’s eastern village of Bohdanivka to the west of the occupied city of Bakhmut, prompting Kyiv’s defense ministry to deny them.
But it acknowledged fierce fighting in the area and said Russian assault groups had reached the village’s northern outskirts overnight. “Bohdanivka is now under the control of the defense forces,” it said.
The settlement lies a few kilometers northeast of the town of Chasiv Yar, a Kyiv-controlled stronghold that Russia has been trying to reach after seizing the town of Avdiivka in February to the south.

SEIZE THE STRATEGIC INITIATIVE
Russia’s defense ministry said on Saturday its forces had captured Pervomaiske, a village to the south also located in Ukraine’s Donetsk region where Moscow has focused its offensive operations for months.
Moscow said its troops had improved their tactical position on the front line there after capturing the village 8 kilometers (4.97 miles) southwest of occupied Avdiivka. Kyiv did not immediately comment on the status of Pervomaiske.
Syrskyi said Russian armored assault groups were attacking on the fronts of Lyman as well as Bakhmut and using dozens of tanks and armored personnel carriers to try to break through lines on the Pokrovsk front.
President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has warned Russia may be preparing a big offensive push in late May or in June, inspected domestically-produced weapons at an event outside Kyiv where he presented state awards to Ukrainian arms producers.
At the event, Ukraine’s military drone forces chief said supplies of drones to the front lines this year were already three times higher than the volume supplied over the course of the whole of last year, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported.
He also said Ukraine had strike drones capable of flying 1,200 km.
In his statement, Syrskyi said only a technological edge over Russia in sophisticated weapons would allow Kyiv “to seize the strategic initiative” from a better equipped and larger foe.
He called for better training for soldiers and in particular infantry, a clear reference to Ukraine’s manpower challenges.
Ukraine’s parliament passed a bill on Thursday to overhaul how the armed forces draft civilians into the ranks. Zelensky also signed legislation last week lowering the draft age from 27 to 25.


UK’s Prince William, wife Kate, ‘saddened’ by Sydney stabbing

UK’s Prince William, wife Kate, ‘saddened’ by Sydney stabbing
Updated 13 April 2024
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UK’s Prince William, wife Kate, ‘saddened’ by Sydney stabbing

UK’s Prince William, wife Kate, ‘saddened’ by Sydney stabbing
  • “We are shocked and saddened by the terrible events in Sydney earlier today,” the Prince and Princess of Wales said
  • The 41-year-old William’s father King Charles III is the monarch of Australia

LONDON: Britain’s Prince William and his wife Catherine said Saturday they were “shocked and saddened” by a stabbing at a shopping center in Sydney that left six people dead and several others wounded.
The incident occurred at the sprawling Westfield Bondi Junction mall complex, which was packed with thousands of Saturday afternoon shoppers.
Australian police said multiple people were stabbed by the unidentified assailant, who was tracked down and shot dead by a policewoman.
“We are shocked and saddened by the terrible events in Sydney earlier today,” the Prince and Princess of Wales said in a post on the social media site X.


“Our thoughts are with all those affected, including the loved ones of those lost and the heroic emergency responders who risked their own lives to save others. W & C,” they added.
The 41-year-old William’s father King Charles III is the monarch of Australia.
Catherine announced last month that she was undergoing treatment for a cancer discovered following abdominal surgery.
Her shock disclosure came after Charles revealed that he was receiving treatment for an unspecified cancer.
Both have taken a back seat from frontline royal duties as they recuperate.