Trump ‘misunderstood’ by community, Arab-American relative tells Arab News

Trump ‘misunderstood’ by community, Arab-American relative tells Arab News
Former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses the Libertarian National Convention in Washington, DC, May 25, 2024. (File/AFP)
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Updated 28 May 2024
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Trump ‘misunderstood’ by community, Arab-American relative tells Arab News

Trump ‘misunderstood’ by community, Arab-American relative tells Arab News
  • Massad F. Boulos' son Michael is married to ex-US president's daughter Tiffany
  • Boulos says he and other Arab Americans are organizing meetings with community leaders in several states

CHICAGO: Donald Trump is “misunderstood” by many Arab Americans due to “biased media” and false claims made by his Democratic foes, according to the Arab-American father-in-law of the former US president’s daughter, in an exclusive interview with Arab News.

Dr. Massad F. Boulos, whose son Michael married Trump’s fourth child Tiffany in 2022, said he is working with other Arab Americans to “clear up misunderstandings” that would help Trump win the Nov. 5 presidential election. Tiffany is Trump’s only child with his second wife Marla Maples.

Boulos said he and other Arab Americans are organizing meetings with community leaders in several states, including Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., New York, and Minnesota.

“Trump was a president who was absolutely misunderstood by many, not just because of the distortion of the biased media, but also by regular people. He was misunderstood. As we all know, he came into this as a businessman,” Boulos said.

“Unfortunately, some of the community in the past, four years ago, voted for (US President Joe) Biden and now they’re absolutely dissatisfied. Some of them have shifted to support President Trump.

“Some of them are undecided. We’re here to show them the truth, the actual facts, and show them the right choice, which is President Trump.”

Boulos and his son attended a meeting in Troy, Michigan, on May 21, to “clear up misunderstandings” and reinforce Trump’s commitment to Middle East peace and the Arab-American community. Boulos said Trump would be more effective than Biden, who is a “traditional politician.”

“Trump wasn’t a politician and he never has been, and probably never will be a politician in that sense, although I think he’s doing great. He’s a straight shooter. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything. That’s who he is,” Boulos said.

“Biden is the absolute mainstream politician versus the successful businessman Trump, who is extremely smart, who is extremely sharp, who is extremely results-oriented. He’s a man of his word.

“He delivered on every single promise. We all know that had it not been for COVID, Trump would easily have been reelected in a landslide. He’s someone who’s greatly misunderstood.”

Boulos added: “For those who are undecided, we strongly believe in the coming three or four months they’ll turn in the right direction, which is the right. They’ve seen what’s going on.”

He said it is not true that Trump “banned Muslims” when he imposed a travel ban on seven countries, all afflicted by conflict: Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Iran.

“This has been taken way out of proportion… This was never intended to be a Muslim ban. The media started using that expression and mobilized against him on it. It’s absolutely not the case,” Boulos said, adding that Trump was concerned about security issues in the seven countries and wanted to prevent bad actors from entering the US.

“It’s a high level of vetting, like any government ought to do and many governments around the world actually do, including Third World countries and developing countries.”

Boulos, an Orthodox Christian from Lebanon, said Trump is the “better choice” for Arab-American voters and has “always been close” to the community as a businessman.

“I think Trump is saying the right things. The Arab-American community shares the same values that he does,” said Boulos.

“The No. 1 issue today is the issue of war and peace. He’s a man of peace. He’s the only president who didn’t start any war.

“He’s the only president who has ended war and withdrew troops in a proper manner, not like we saw two years ago in Afghanistan.

“He was able to achieve four peace accords, and he was on his way to achieving more of those (Middle East) peace accords.”

Trump wants to see an economically prosperous Middle East, said Boulos, adding that he would have prevented the wars in Gaza and Ukraine.

“Had President Trump been in the White House for a second term, all of these wars wouldn’t have taken place, whether it was the Ukraine war or the war in the Middle East… His doctrine is peace through strength, and it would continue to work, and all of these conflicts will come to an end.”

He said Trump is committed to a peaceful Middle East. “The Palestine-Israeli conflict was a top priority for him. He worked very hard and he was very close to it,” said Boulos.

“He got four peace accords to be signed, and he was working very hard to achieve more and the ultimate one, achieving a Palestinian-Israeli peace… Yes, this is a priority.”

Boulos said most Arabs embrace conservative values and identify with Trump and the Republicans.

He added that they support Trump’s goals of lowering taxes for families, reducing government bureaucracy, improving the economy, and creating more jobs.

“I don’t think there’s any member of the Arab-American community who’d disagree with those policies,” Boulos said.

“There’s a huge base of support within the Arab-American community that hasn’t shifted. There’s a solid base that has always been there. Many of them are Republican.

“Of course there have been some misunderstandings. There are some issues caused by the mainstream media and by the vicious opposition. His message needs to be heard in a much clearer way in our communities.

“So we’ll make sure his message is heard loud and clear. There are many ways to do that… to reach directly to the grassroots.

“For those who are hesitant or who are undecided, the message will be very clear and will help them make the right decision.”

Boulos said his family’s ties to Trump reflect the former president’s respect for Arab Americans and Muslims.

He emphasized that Trump has two sons-in-law from different backgrounds, “one who is Jewish and one who is Arab American. This shows you the type and kind of person that Donald Trump is, and that the Trump family is.

“The way they’ve embraced Michael, my son, and us as a family is really amazing, something I can’t easily describe. It’s extremely warm and just a family. To sum it up in one word, I’d say it’s a true family.”

Boulos said the meetings he is having with Arab-American leaders have not been organized by Trump’s political campaigners.

Boulos’ family owns a multibillion-dollar conglomerate in Nigeria that encompasses retail, construction, and vehicles.


Russia slowing down in Kharkiv area after lifting of arms restrictions, says Austin

Russia slowing down in Kharkiv area after lifting of arms restrictions, says Austin
Updated 12 sec ago
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Russia slowing down in Kharkiv area after lifting of arms restrictions, says Austin

Russia slowing down in Kharkiv area after lifting of arms restrictions, says Austin
“What I see is a slowing of the Russians’ advance and a stabilizing of that particular piece of the front,” said Austin

BRUSSELS: Russia’s advance in the Kharkiv area is slowing and the frontline is stabilizing after some allies lifted restrictions on Kyiv’s use of donated weapons on Russian territory, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday.
“What I see is a slowing of the Russians’ advance and a stabilizing of that particular piece of the front. Now, I think we’ll see incremental gains — and we’ll see puts and takes — going forward,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels.
“But again, a couple of weeks ago, there was concern that we would see a significant breakthrough on the part of the Russians. I don’t think we’ll see that going forward.”

Unusually heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan will affect 200,000 people, a top UN official warns

Unusually heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan will affect 200,000 people, a top UN official warns
Updated 24 min 51 sec ago
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Unusually heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan will affect 200,000 people, a top UN official warns

Unusually heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan will affect 200,000 people, a top UN official warns
  • The UN has prepared a contingency plan, with $40 million set aside to respond to any emergencies, said Mohamed Yahya
  • The weather forecasters in Pakistan are projecting above-normal rainfall in the coming weeks

ISLAMABAD: An estimated 200,000 people in Pakistan could be affected by the upcoming monsoon season, which is expected to bring heavier rains than usual, a top UN official warned on Thursday.
The United Nations, with help from local authorities, has prepared a contingency plan, with $40 million set aside to respond to any emergencies, said Mohamed Yahya, the newly appointed Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan.
Yahya told journalists in Islamabad that the weather forecasters in Pakistan are projecting above-normal rainfall in the coming weeks. However, the rains would not be as heavy as in 2022 when devastating floods killed 1,739 people, destroyed 2 million homes, and covered as much as one-third of the country at one point.
Pakistan is one of the countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change, in part because of its immense northern glaciers, which are now melting as air temperatures rise. Warmer air can also hold more moisture, intensifying the rains of the monsoon.
Until recently, public opinion and even some government officials took little account of the possible negative impact from climate change on daily life. Pakistan’s weather patterns have changed in recent years, forcing cities to strengthen their infrastructure and farmers to adapt their practices.
The 2022 floods caused more than $30 billion in damage to Pakistan’s already cash-strapped economy.
Analysts and government officials say Pakistan in recent years failed to achieve goals for economic growth because of man-made disasters, which have repeatedly hit the country in the form of droughts, heatwaves and heavy rains, which badly damaged the road network, bridges, power system and other infrastructure.
Pakistan says despite contributing less than 1 percent to carbon emissions worldwide, it is bearing the brunt of global climate disasters. This year, Pakistan recorded its wettest April since 1961, with more than double the usual monthly rainfall.
Yahya said he was in contact with officials at Pakistan’s ministry of climate change, who were preparing their contingency own plans for monsoon season, which in Pakistan runs from July to October.
Earlier this week, weather forecasters in Pakistan urged people to stay indoors as the third heatwave in a month began. A recent study by the United Nations children’s agency said that Pakistan could avert 175,000 deaths by 2030 by developing resilient energy systems to power its health facilities.
On Thursday, temperatures in various parts of Pakistan soared as high as 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit), forcing many people to stay indoors. Authorities are asking people to hydrate and avoid unnecessary travel.


UK Labour leader Keir Starmer says he’ll end the era of ‘gestures and gimmicks’ if he wins power

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer says he’ll end the era of ‘gestures and gimmicks’ if he wins power
Updated 13 June 2024
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UK Labour leader Keir Starmer says he’ll end the era of ‘gestures and gimmicks’ if he wins power

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer says he’ll end the era of ‘gestures and gimmicks’ if he wins power
  • Starmer said a Labour government would “stop the chaos, turn the page and start to rebuild our country”

MANCHESTER: The left-of-center politician aiming to become Britain’s prime minister in three weeks’ time said Thursday he will lead a government that’s both “pro-business and pro-worker” and restore stability after years of economic and political turmoil.
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said that if he’s elected on July 4, he will end the “desperate era of gestures and gimmicks” of the Conservative Party’s turbulent tenure.
Launching Labour’s election manifesto in the northwest England city of Manchester, Starmer said a Labour government would “stop the chaos, turn the page and start to rebuild our country.”
Next month British voters will elect lawmakers to fill all 650 seats in the House of Commons, and the leader of the party that can command a majority — either alone or in coalition — will become prime minister. Labour currently has a double-digit lead in opinion polls over Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ‘s governing Conservatives, who have been in power for 14 years under five different prime ministers.
The Conservatives jettisoned two prime ministers without an election in quick succession in 2022: first Boris Johnson, felled by scandals, then Liz Truss, who rocked the economy with drastic tax-slashing plans and lasted just seven weeks in office.
Starmer, a former chief prosecutor who is widely seen as competent but dull, is trying to turn his stolid image into an asset. His core message is that he has transformed Labour from its high-taxing, big-spending days under former leader Jeremy Corbyn into a party of the stable center.
Starmer said his platform was “a manifesto for wealth creation,” and acknowledged that a Labour government would face “hard choices” about public spending.
“We cannot play fast and loose with the public finances,” he said. He said he rejected the idea that “the only levers are tax and spend,” and would get the economy expanding after years of sluggish growth.
Starmer’s cautious economic approach dismays some in his party, who want bolder change, but has won the support of many business leaders.
Starmer called the party’s platform a manifesto for “wealth creation,” and its ambitious goals were largely long-term ones: establishing a new industrial policy, developing a 10-year infrastructure strategy, building 1.5 million new homes.
Labour pledged to improve ties with Britain’s former partners in the European Union, but ruled out a return to the bloc’s frictionless single market and customs union.
The plan’s spending commitments were modest. The manifesto forecasts that taxes will rise by 7.4 billion pounds ($9.25 billion) by 2028-29, through measures including a windfall tax on energy companies.
Starmer said personal taxes would not rise under a Labour government, but that did not stop the Conservatives casting Labour as the high-tax party.
“If you think they’ll win, start saving,” Sunak wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
Starmer spoke at the headquarters of the Co-op, a Manchester-founded cooperative society that has grown into a large retail and services empire. He introduced several voters, including a father whose family of four live in a one-bedroom apartment, and Nathaniel Dye, a man with terminal cancer campaigning for faster treatment.
The only unscripted moment came from a demonstrator calling for Labour to have tougher climate change policies, who was swiftly removed.
Sunak released the Conservative manifesto — the party’s key handbook of promises — on Tuesday, pledging to cut taxes and reduce immigration if the Conservative Party is reelected.
Labour’s 131-page manifesto included previously announced plans, with little in the way of last-minute treats to woo voters.
“It’s not about rabbits out of a hat, it’s not about pantomime,” Starmer said. “I’m running as a candidate to be prime minister, not a candidate to run the circus.”


NATO says over 300,000 troops now on high readiness

NATO says over 300,000 troops now on high readiness
Updated 13 June 2024
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NATO says over 300,000 troops now on high readiness

NATO says over 300,000 troops now on high readiness
  • “The offers on the table from allies comfortably exceed the 300,000 that we set,” the official said
  • The push to have more troops ready to respond quickly is part of a broader overhaul of NATO’s plans to stave off any potential Russian attack

BRUSSELS: NATO countries have “comfortably exceeded” a target of placing 300,000 troops on high-readiness as the alliance grapples with the threat from Russia, a senior alliance official said Thursday.
NATO leaders agreed in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 to massively ramp up the number of forces that alliance commanders can deploy within 30 days.
“The offers on the table from allies comfortably exceed the 300,000 that we set,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
“Those are forces which allies have said to us, ‘They are available to you as of now at that level of readiness’.”
The push to have more troops ready to respond quickly is part of a broader overhaul of NATO’s plans to stave off any potential Russian attack that was signed off at a summit last year.
Those plans laid out for the first time since the end of the Cold War what each member of the US-led alliance would be expected to do in case of an invasion by Moscow.
NATO commanders are currently trying to make sure they have the capabilities to execute those plans if needed.
But the alliance faces shortfalls in key weaponry such as air defenses and longer-range missiles.
“There are capability gaps. There are things that we don’t have enough of as an alliance at the moment and we need to tackle,” the official said.


Migrant shipwreck victims pursue case against Greek coast guard

Migrant shipwreck victims pursue case against Greek coast guard
Updated 13 June 2024
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Migrant shipwreck victims pursue case against Greek coast guard

Migrant shipwreck victims pursue case against Greek coast guard
  • 53 have filed a group criminal complaint, alleging the coast guard took hours to mount a response despite warnings from EU border agency Frontex and the NGO Alarm Phone
  • The case is still under preliminary investigation by the naval court of Piraeus

ATHENS: A year after one of the Mediterranean’s worst migrant shipwrecks killed more than 600 people, lawyers for survivors pursuing a criminal case against the Greek coast guard gave fresh details on the case Thursday.
The rusty and overloaded trawler Adriana sank on the night of June 13-14 last year. It was carrying more than 750 people, according to the United Nations, but only 82 bodies were found.
Lawyers representing dozens of survivors held a news conference after a court in Kalamata last month dropped charges against nine Egyptian men accused of being part of the criminal gang operating the trawler.
Among the 104 survivors, 53 have filed a group criminal complaint, alleging the coast guard took hours to mount a response despite warnings from EU border agency Frontex and the NGO Alarm Phone.
“This was a crime committed over a 15-hour period,” Eleni Spathana, a lawyer with the Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) group, told journalists.
The case is still under preliminary investigation by the naval court of Piraeus, but the survivors’ lawyers say they have found many irregularities in the Greek coast guard’s actions before and after the incident.
The boat was sailing from Tobruk, Libya to Italy. In addition to Syrians and Palestinians, it was carrying nearly 350 Pakistanis, according to the Pakistani government.
Survivors said the coast guard was towing the vessel when it capsized and sank 47 nautical miles off the coast of Pylos.
The coast guard has insisted it communicated with people on board who “refused any help,” rendering any rescue operation in high seas risky.
But on Thursday Maria Papamina, legal coordinator for the Greek Council for Refugees, said the coast guard chose to dispatch a patrol boat from Crete — and not a larger rescue tugboat stationed closer by at the Peloponnese port of Gythio.
The patrol boat’s voyage data recorder was damaged and was only repaired two months after the accident, Papamina added. Nor was there any video footage from the patrol boat.
“There are reasonable concerns of an attempted cover-up,” she said.
Spathana of the RSA added: “There was clearly no intent to rescue before the boat sank. Not only is this terrifying, it is criminally liable.”
Eighteen of the victims remain unburied, including eight still to be identified.
The independent Greek ombudsman’s office has launched a disciplinary investigation into the case, after the coast guard saw no grounds to do so, the lawyers said Thursday.
On Friday, victims’ relatives in Pakistan plan to gather in the city of Lala Musa to protest the lack of response from the Greek authorities to the tragedy, organizers in Athens said.