CIA chief Burns to visit Paris to revive talks on Gaza: Western source

CIA Director Bill Burns speaks during the US Foreign Service Gala Celebrating 100 Years of American Diplomacy at the State Department in Washington, DC. (File/AFP)
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Updated 24 May 2024

CIA chief Burns to visit Paris to revive talks on Gaza: Western source

  • Visit of the CIA chief to the French capital, expected on Friday or Saturday, comes after Israel gave the green light to the resumption of negotiations
  • It was not immediately clear if representatives of Qatar or Egypt would be present at the Paris talks

WASHINGTON: US intelligence chief Bill Burns is expected to hold talks in Paris with representatives of Israel in a bid to relaunch talks aimed at finding a truce in Gaza, a Western source close to the issue said Friday.
The visit of the CIA chief to the French capital, expected on Friday or Saturday, comes after Israel gave the green light to the resumption of negotiations for the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza in exchange for a ceasefire.
Previous talks in Cairo and Doha attended by Qatar and Egypt as mediators for Hamas broke up earlier this month with both Israel and the Palestinian militant group unhappy with the conditions of the other side.
It was not immediately clear if representatives of Qatar or Egypt would be present at the Paris talks.
The New York Times said Burns would meet his Israeli counterpart David Barnea, the head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency.
The US-based Axios news website quoted a source as saying Burns would also meet Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Thani as well as Barnea.
The Gaza war broke out after Hamas’s unprecedented attack on October 7 resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.
Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,800 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.
Axios said Israeli negotiators developed in recent days a “new proposal” to renew the hostage talks which includes “some compromises” in Israel’s position compared to the last round of negotiations in Cairo.

Arab Americans react with shock at attempted assassination of former president Trump

Updated 13 sec ago

Arab Americans react with shock at attempted assassination of former president Trump

CHICAGO:Arab American leaders from the left and the right of American politics said they were in shock that former president Donald Trump was lightly injured in an apparent assassination attempt against him while he was speaking to a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday night.

Initial reports and live television showed Trump addressing the rally and he turned his head to the right as he was speaking when three loud gunshots were heard. Trump grabbed his right ear, which was bloodied, as he was brought to the ground and covered completely by four by Secret Service agents.

Trump raised his hand in the air as he was walked off the rally stage embraced by five Secret Service agents.

Arab Americans reacted with anger and expressions of concern over the attempted assassination in which at least one person was thought to have been killed, as well as the suspected shooter, initial news reports stated. 

Many said it is the result of the hatred that has been directed at Trump by his foes, especially on social media like Facebook, and because of the continued polarization that has divided America politically and socially.

“They tried everything from impeachments to indictments, and when everything failed, they tried to actually assassinate him,” Dr. Massad Boulos told Arab News minutes after the attempted assassination in Pennsylvania.

“But this has just made him the 47th president of the USA. He’s been making calls from the hospital and he’s in a very positive spirit.”

Boulos’s son Michael is married to Tiffany Trump, one of the former president’s daughters.

Boulos said that he was told by the president’s aides in the past that “former president Trump has been asking for a beefed-up security to be provided for weeks, but the Biden administration has refused.”

Yards away, a member of the audience was declared dead from the bullet as it passed the president. A second female audience member was seriously injured as the crowd began screaming.

President Joe Biden issued a statement to say he is grateful that “he is doing well” and emphasized that “there is no place for political violence.” 

Biden said on national TV that he “reached out to Trump at the hospital.” Sources said the Biden campaign confirmed that it is pulling down campaign commercials that have been very critical of Trump.

Bishara Bahbah, chairman of Arab Americans for Trump, blamed “the atmosphere of hatred against President Trump” that has been intensifying over the past several years.

“The Democrats have been demonizing him, making all kinds of horrible attacks against him and against his family. I am not saying they are behind this, but, at the same time, the hatred emanating from the Democratic Party and some of its leaders and members of Congress is making its way down to people like this person who tried to assassinate him,” Bahbah told Arab News.

“I believe he will come out stronger now as a result and that the people will rally around him. We are grateful that he survived. Violence cannot be tolerated. We pray for him that he remains safe.”

Arab Americans on the right and the left said they were “in shock at the violence” that was broadcast on live television.

Jim Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute in Washington D.C., said: “There is a lot we don’t know. But, what we do know is that violent rhetoric can give rise to violent behavior. We need to take action and that violence is never the way to resolve political differences. Our gun-crazy culture is out of control.”

Mohammed Jaber, a trustee on the suburban District 230 High School Board in Orland Park, said: “No human should fear for their life, whether it is a politician or a civilian. We can all agree to disagree, but everyone should be respected regardless of one’s view. It’s completely wrong what happened to Trump at this campaign rally.”

Samir Khalil, president of the Arab American Democratic Club of Illinois, said: “It is truly sad that so many tragic events around the world and the leading democracy nation reach this level of tragic political violence. As a human being I am saddened by this violent behavior. We should expect more intervention from the free world to influence peace and harmony not wars and no more hate. May God bless humanity of the world and the great USA.”

Mary Basta, mayor of the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, said: “I am deeply saddened by the senseless act of violence that occurred today.  Prayers go out to the victims and their families during this incredibly difficult time. Such acts of violence are unacceptable and have no place in our society and do not reflect the sentiment of true democracy.”


World leaders react to Trump rally shooting

Updated 14 July 2024

World leaders react to Trump rally shooting

  • Trump rally shooting in Pennsylvania leaves two dead, two injured 
  • Presidents, prime ministers globally speak out against political violence 

WASHINGTON: World leaders reacted with shock to the wounding of Donald Trump in an assassination attempt against the former US president at an election rally.
Presidents and prime ministers globally spoke out against political violence and expressed their support for those affected by the shooting on Saturday, which killed one bystander and left two other spectators critically wounded.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, condemned the attack.
“Once again, we are witnessing unacceptable acts of violence against political representatives,” the bloc’s top diplomat said.
British Prime Minister Keir Starmer said Sunday he was “appalled by the shocking scenes” at the rally.
“Political violence in any form has no place in our societies,” the premier said.
Referring to “these dark hours,” Hungary’s nationalist leader Viktor Orban offered his “thoughts and prayers” to Trump.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said she was “following with apprehension” updates from Pennsylvania and wished Trump a speedy recovery.
The right-wing leader expressed her hope that “in the following months of the electoral campaign, dialogue and responsibility can prevail over hate and violence.”
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was “appalled to learn about the shooting” and wished Trump a “speedy recovery.”
“Such violence has no justification and no place anywhere in the world. Never should violence prevail,” he said.
Argentina’s President Javier Milei blamed the “international left” after the assassination attempt.
“In panic of losing at the polls, they resort to terrorism to impose their backward and authoritarian agenda,” said the populist president.
Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the shooting “must be strongly condemned by all defenders of democracy and political dialogue.”
Costa Rica’s government condemned the attack and said it was following updates on “this unacceptable act.”
“As a leader in democracy and peace, we reject all forms of violence,” the presidency said.
Chilean President Gabriel Boric expressed his “unqualified condemnation” of the shooting.
“Violence is a threat to democracies and weakens our life together. We must all reject it,” said Boric.
In Bolivia, President Luis Arce said “despite our deep ideological and political differences, violence, wherever it comes from, must always be rejected by everyone.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “deeply concerned by the attack on my friend.”
“Violence has no place in politics and democracies,” said Modi.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also spoke out against political attacks, saying “we must stand firm against any form of violence that challenges democracy.”
Taiwan’s President Lai Ching-te offered his “sincere condolences” to the shooting victims.
“Political violence of any form is never acceptable in our democracies,” he said.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos said it was “with great relief that we receive the news that former President Donald Trump is fine and well after the attempt to assassinate him.”
“Together with all democracy loving peoples around the world, we condemn all forms of political violence. The voice of the people must always remain supreme,” Marcos said.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was “shocked by the terrible scenes” at the Trump campaign event, expressing his relief that the former US president was safe.
“This was an inexcusable attack on the democratic values that Australians and Americans share and the freedom that we treasure,” Albanese said.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Luxon echoed these views, writing “no country should encounter such political violence.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he and his wife Sara “were shocked by the apparent attack on President Trump.”
“We pray for his safety and speedy recovery,” Netanyahu said.

Donald Trump injured but safe in apparent assassination bid; shooter killed by Secret Service agents

Updated 14 July 2024

Donald Trump injured but safe in apparent assassination bid; shooter killed by Secret Service agents

  • One rally attendee killed, two spectators injured as gunman opens fire at Trump rally
  • Biden describes attack as “sick,” says “no place in America for this kind of violence”

BUTLER, Pennsylvania: Donald Trump was hit in the ear in an apparent assassination attempt by a gunman at a campaign rally on Saturday, in a chaotic and shocking incident that will fuel fears of instability ahead of the 2024 US presidential election.
The 78-year-old former president was rushed off stage with blood smeared across his face after the shooting in Butler, Pennsylvania, while the gunman and a bystander were killed and two spectators critically injured.
The Republican candidate raised a defiant fist to the crowd as he was bundled away to safety and said afterward “I was shot with a bullet that pierced the upper part of my right ear.”
President Joe Biden, who is set to face Trump in November’s deeply polarized election, said the incident was “sick” and added that there was “no place in America for this kind of violence.”
“We cannot be like this,” Biden said.
As the bangs ran out, Trump, wearing a red “Make America Great Again” cap, grimaced and clutched a hand to his ear, with blood visible on his ear and cheek.
He fell to the floor as Secret Service agents swarmed onto the podium, surrounding him and escorting him roughly off the stage to a nearby vehicle.

“It is incredible that such an act can take place in our Country,” Trump said on his TruthSocial network within hours, in remarks sure to stoke political tensions already engulfing the United States.
“I knew immediately that something was wrong in that I heard a whizzing sound, shots, and immediately felt the bullet ripping through the skin,” Trump said.
“Much bleeding took place, so I realized then what was happening.”

The US Secret Service said in a statement that the suspected shooter “fired multiple shots toward the stage from an elevated position outside the rally” before being “neutralized” by agents.
It said Trump was “safe and being evaluated” while confirming the death of a spectator while two others were critically injured.
The shooter has not yet been identified.
Trump said in his statement that “I want to extend my condolences to the family of the person of the rally who was killed.”
With the attack sending shock waves around the world, Biden said that he hoped to speak to Trump soon.
The shooting happened shortly after Trump took the stage at his final campaign rally before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee next week.
Signaling the political stakes at play, possible Trump vice presidential pick J.D. Vance quickly blamed Biden’s “rhetoric” for the shooting.

The rally descended into panic after shots were heard and screams and shouts rang out.
“Let me get my shoes,” Trump was heard saying on microphone, as security agents helped him back to his feet.
He turned back to the crowd and repeatedly raised his fist, as well as mouthing words that weren’t immediately discernable, in what is set to become an iconic image.
Agents bundled the tycoon into an SUV, as he once more raised his fist to the crowd.
“We saw a lot of people go down, looking confused. I heard the shots,” said John Yeykal from Franklin, Pennsylvania, who was attending his first Trump rally.

Republicans, Democrats denounce violence

Former president Barack Obama said there was “absolutely no place for political violence in our democracy.”
Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell added: “Tonight, all Americans are grateful that President Trump appears to be fine after a despicable attack on a peaceful rally. Violence has no place in our politics.”
Billionaire Elon Musk reacted by quickly endorsing Trump.
“I fully endorse President Trump and hope for his rapid recovery,” Musk wrote on X, which he owns along with car manufacturer Tesla, as he shared a video of Trump pumping his fist while being escorted away.
The United States has a history of political violence, and presidents, former presidents and candidates have tight security.
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 while riding in his motorcade, and his brother Bobby Kennedy was shot dead in 1968. President Ronald Reagan survived an assassination attempt in 1981.

Trump is due to receive his party’s formal nomination at the Republican National Convention, which kicks off in Milwaukee on Monday.
“This horrific act of political violence at a peaceful campaign rally has no place in this country and should be unanimously and forcefully condemned,” Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson said on social media.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he was horrified by what happened and was relieved Trump was safe. “Political violence has no place in our country,” he said.
A Secret Service spokesperson said on social media: “The Secret Service has implemented protective measures and the former president is safe ... This is now an active Secret Service investigation and further information will be released when available.”
CNN reported that Trump was injured, but gave no other details. It was not clear how or what injuries he may have sustained.

Witness saw shooter on rooftop

Ron Moose, a Trump supporter who was in the crowd, described the chaos: “I heard about four shots and I saw the crowd go down and then Trump ducked also real quick. Then the Secret Service all jumped and protected him as soon as they could. We are talking within a second they were all protecting him.”
Moose said he then saw a man running and being chased by officers in military uniforms. He said he heard additional shots, but was unsure who fired them. He noted that by then snipers had set up on the roof of a warehouse behind the stage.
The BBC interviewed a man who described himself as an eyewitness, saying he saw a man armed with a rifle crawling up a roof near the event. The person, who the BBC did not identify, said he and the people he was with started pointing at the man, trying to alert security.
“I am thinking to myself, why is Trump still speaking. Why have they not pulled him off stage,” said the man, who was wearing a red Trump hat. “Next thing you know, five shots rang out.”

The venue was abandoned with chairs knocked over and yellow police tape around the stage. A helicopter flew above and law enforcement officers walked through the area, the video feed showed. Armed law enforcement officers were also seen on a roof near the stage where Trump was standing.
Biden’s campaign was working to pause its television ads and halting all other outbound communication, a campaign official said on Saturday.
Trump, who served as president from 2017-2021, easily bested his rivals for the Republican nomination early in the campaign and has largely unified around him the party that had briefly wavered in support after his supporters attacked the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, attempting to overturn his 2020 election defeat.
The businessman and former reality television star entered the year facing a raft of legal worries, including four separate criminal prosecutions. He was found guilty in late May of trying to cover up hush money payments to a porn star, but the other three prosecutions he faces — including two for his attempts to overturn his defeat — have been ground to a halt by various factors including a Supreme Court decision early this month that found him to be partly immune to prosecution.

Biden leads condemnation after Trump wounded at rally shooting

Updated 14 July 2024

Biden leads condemnation after Trump wounded at rally shooting

  • Former President Obama said "absolutely no place for political violence in our democracy,” George Bush called it a “cowardly” attack
  • But some prominent Republicans swiftly pointed the finger at Biden’s reelection campaign "rhetoric" for the violence

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden led the condemnation after his election rival Donald Trump was wounded in an apparent assassination attempt at a Pennsylvania rally on Saturday, as some Republicans blamed the Biden campaign for the violence.
Political leaders on both sides of the aisle slammed the attack minutes after the Republican candidate was rushed off stage by the Secret Service with blood running down his face.
“There’s no place in America for this kind of violence. It’s sick. It’s sick. It’s one of the reasons why we have to unite this country... We cannot be like this, we cannot condone this,” Biden told reporters in an emergency briefing at his house in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
“The idea that there’s political violence, or violence in America like this, is just unheard of. It’s just not appropriate. Everybody, everybody must condemn it. Everybody,” Biden said.
Vice President Kamala Harris said on X: “We are praying for him, his family, and all those who have been injured and impacted by this senseless shooting.”
Biden’s former boss, Barack Obama, echoed his words in a statement, saying there was “absolutely no place for political violence in our democracy.”
“Although we don’t yet know exactly what happened, we should all be relieved that former President Trump wasn’t seriously hurt, and use this moment to recommit ourselves to civility and respect in our politics,” he said on X.
Former president George W. Bush condemned the “cowardly” attack.
“Laura and I are grateful that President Trump is safe following the cowardly attack on his life. And we commend the men and women of the Secret Service for their speedy response,” the Republican said in a statement.
Bill and Hillary Clinton also condemned the violence.
“Hillary and I are thankful that President Trump is safe, heartbroken for all those affected by the attack at today’s rally in Pennsylvania, and grateful for the swift action of the US Secret Service,” the former president wrote on X.
But some prominent Republicans, including one of Trump’s potential running mates, J.D. Vance, swiftly pointed the finger at Biden’s reelection campaign.
“Today is not just some isolated incident,” Vance wrote on X. “The central premise of the Biden campaign is that President Donald Trump is an authoritarian fascist who must be stopped at all costs. That rhetoric led directly to President Trump’s attempted assassination.”
“The Republican District Attorney in Butler County, PA, should immediately file charges against Joseph R. Biden for inciting an assassination,” wrote Republican Congressman Mike Collins of Georgia, also on X.

Trump’s shocked children also took to social media.
“This is the fighter America needs!” son Eric Trump wrote above a photo of his father with blood running down his cheek, his fist in the air and an American flag waving in the background as the Secret Service rushed him from the stage.
Donald Trump Jr posted the same photo, writing on X: “He’ll never stop fighting to Save America.”
“I love you Dad, today and always,” daughter Ivanka posted on X, thanking supporters as well as the Secret Service for their “quick and decisive actions today.”
“I continue to pray for our country,” she said.
From the Senate, top Democrat Chuck Schumer said he was “horrified” by the shooting, while his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell slammed it as “despicable.”
“I thank God that former President Trump is safe. As we learn more details about this horrifying incident, let us pray that all those in attendance at the former President’s rally today are unharmed,” former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote on X.
Tech billionaire Elon Musk said Saturday that he “fully” endorses Trump after the rally violence, and hopes “for his rapid recovery.”
“Had it been less than a half inch to the right, he would not have survived,” the Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, posted on X.
“Trump is truly blessed.”
Vivek Ramaswamy, who challenged Trump for the Republican presidential nomination at the primaries, said the same.
“We believe the fact that President Trump is safe right now is nothing short of an act of God,” he wrote on X.
“Today, the future survival of the United States of America came down to less than a hair’s width in the path of a bullet.”

Billionaires Elon Musk, Bill Ackman endorse Trump in presidential race

Updated 14 July 2024

Billionaires Elon Musk, Bill Ackman endorse Trump in presidential race

  • Musk, who has been ramping up criticism of US President Joe Biden, said Trump has proved that he is "tough"
  • Musk has said he previously voted for Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton as well as Biden

Billionaires Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, and hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, publicly endorsed Donald Trump for the first time in the US presidential race, with Musk calling the Republican former president “tough.”

Musk, the world’s richest person, posted the endorsement with a video of Trump with blood on his face pumping his fist after multiple shots rang out at Trump’s rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday. Trump was safe.
The posts cement Musk’s shift toward right-wing politics and hand Trump a high-profile backer in his quest to return to the White House in the Nov. 5 election.
“I fully endorse President Trump and hope for his rapid recovery,” Musk posted on his social media platform X.
“The martyr lived,” he wrote in a later post, citing a reported debate between conservative venture capitalist Peter Thiel and LinkedIn co-founder and Democratic megadonor Reid Hoffman.


Musk later posted a photograph of Trump at the event, followed by: “Last time America had a candidate this tough was Theodore Roosevelt.”
Musk and representatives from X did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Musk, who has been ramping up criticism of US President Joe Biden, has donated to a political group working to elect Trump, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing sources.
The South African-born businessman’s sway stands to benefit Trump, since Musk has one of the largest footprints on X with 189.5 million followers, meaning his posts can instantaneously spread widely.
Musk has said he previously voted for Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton as well as Biden.
However, in the last few years, Musk has espoused right-wing views, becoming a fierce critic of diversity initiatives, Biden’s immigration policies and complaining that Democrats had given a “very cold shoulder” to Tesla and his rocket company SpaceX.
In March, Trump, who is expected to be formally nominated next week as the Republican Party’s candidate for the Nov. 5 election, reportedly met with Musk and other wealthy donors.
In response to reports of the meeting, Musk posted on X: “Just to be super clear, I am not donating money to either candidate for US President.” In May, he also denied media reports that there had been talks over a potential advisory role for him in any Trump presidency.

In July 2022, Musk said Trump was “too old to be” president of the United States, and Trump needed to “sail into the sunset.” Musk also said he was leaning toward supporting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for president in 2024.

Trump hit back, calling Musk a “Bull***t artist“.
Then in late 2022, Twitter reversed its ban on former US President Trump shortly after Musk completed his $44 billion purchase of the controversial social media platform, which he later renamed X.
Last month, Trump said he was “a fan of Elon,” adding “he does an incredible job with Tesla.”
Musk said at a recent Tesla shareholder meeting that the two men had “some conversations.” Trump is a “huge fan” of Tesla’s electric pickup trucks, Musk said.
Trump has reiterated his pledge to immediately abandon the Biden administration’s “mandate” to support the electric vehicle industry.
Musk’s support for Republicans and his antisemitic and other controversial comments have alienated some Tesla customers, weighing on the carmaker’s reputation and sales. (Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Alexandra Ulmer, additional reporting by Rami Ayyub and Gnaneshwar Rajan, editing by Deepa Babington, Lananh Nguyen and Franklin Paul)

For his part, hedge fund manager Ackman posted on social media platform X endorsing Trump after the Republican candidate was shot during his campaign rally.
“I just endorsed him,” Ackman said.  “But you know me. I write long posts on important topics. I want people to understand my thinking so it means more and helps others get to the right place,” Ackman said in response to an X user.

Ackman had considered endorsing Trump as recently as May, and had planned to announce his support on X, Reuters and other media outlets reported.
A spokesperson for Ackman did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.