What to know about Trump’s outreach with Arab Americans led by his daughter Tiffany’s father-in-law

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., Massad Boulos, Tiffany Trump's father-in-law, and Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich. (AP)
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Updated 16 June 2024
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What to know about Trump’s outreach with Arab Americans led by his daughter Tiffany’s father-in-law

  • Skepticism remains among Arab American community about whether Boulos can shape potential decisions by Trump
  • Many remain offended by Trump’s first-term immigration ban from several majority Muslim countries

LANSING: Donald Trump’s allies are working to win over Arab American voter s who are unhappy with President Joe Biden’s support for Israel.
The effort is led by Massad Boulos, whose son married Tiffany Trump, the former president’s younger daughter, two years ago. Boulos, a Lebanese-born businessman, is now using his connections in the Arab American community and meeting with its leaders in Michigan, home to many Arab American Democrats who are disenchanted with Biden.
But any apparent political opportunity for Trump may be limited. Many Arab Americans remain offended by Trump’s ban, while in office, on immigration from several majority Muslim countries and other remarks they consider insulting. Trump also has criticized Biden for not being a strong enough supporter of Israel.
In interviews with The Associated Press, Boulos outlined his outreach efforts and discussed his plans. Those who have met with him shared their thoughts on whether the strategy is working.
An unknown emissary
Boulos, who is frequently overseas managing a Nigerian-based conglomerate, first became directly involved in US politics in 2019 when he met Trump. At the time, his son Michael was dating Tiffany Trump.
Before the 2020 election, Boulos assisted with Arab American outreach in a minor role. His involvement has significantly expanded this year as Trump allies aim to exploit divisions within Biden’s Democratic base. Boulos is working closely with an Arab Americans for Trump group that has set up operations in Arizona and Michigan.
The Michigan meetings
In May, Massad and Michael Boulos traveled to metro Detroit with Richard Grenell, a key foreign policy adviser to Trump and his former ambassador to Germany, to meet with a group of close to 40 Arab American activists from across the country.
A little over a week later, Boulos returned for a more extensive round of engagements. He conducted individual meetings with several prominent community leaders and organized larger gatherings, each drawing nearly 50 Arab American community members.
Those who have engaged with Boulos so far are skeptical about the impact of these efforts. They note a lack of substantial evidence supporting the assertion that Trump is the better candidate for Arab Americans.
“Massad is unable to convince people to come to Trump’s side because he hasn’t offered anything substantial to the community,” said Osama Siblani, a publisher of the Arab American News in Dearborn.
Electoral impact
Both major parties have focused on the Arab American vote due to the community’s significant population in Michigan, which is expected to play a decisive role in the presidential election.
Trump won Michigan by just over 10,000 votes in 2016. Biden retook the state for the Democrats in 2020 by a roughly 154,000-vote margin.
Michigan holds the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the nation, with more than 310,000 residents of Middle Eastern or North African ancestry, according to the most recent census.
More than 100,000 Michigan Democratic primary voters in February cast ballots for “uncommitted” in the presidential race, enough to pick up two delegates. In two Muslim-majority Michigan cities, including Dearborn, which holds close to 110,000 people, the “uncommitted” vote defeated Biden in the Democratic primary.
The Trump connection
Boulos is the latest relative to rise in Trump’s political circle. The former president has a long history of putting family members and their relatives in key roles in his campaigns and at the White House.
Recently, Trump handpicked his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, as the Republican National Committee’s co-chair.
During his first term, he appointed his daughter Ivanka as a senior White House adviser and his son-in-law Jared Kushner to oversee major issues such as Middle East peace, criminal justice reform and the government’s coronavirus response.
Boulos calls Trump a “family friend.” But Boulos insists that his outreach efforts so far have been “more of a personal effort to reconnect with friends.” He adds that the key messages emerging from meetings with Arab Americans are communicated to Trump and influenced a recent statement on the Middle East posted on Trump’s social media platform, Truth Social.
But to some attendees of the meetings, the direct connection to Trump matters little when Boulos can’t make promises on future policy.
“Family members are are fine. But at the end of the day, we have to sit down with someone who’s going to be a policymaker,” Siblani said. “And knowing Trump, only Trump can sit down and talk about his policy.”


Hopes high as first Titanic voyage in 14 years happens in wake of submersible tragedy

Updated 27 sec ago
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Hopes high as first Titanic voyage in 14 years happens in wake of submersible tragedy

  • The voyage arrives as undersea explorers are still reeling from the deadly implosion of an experimental submersible en route to the Titanic in June 2023
  • The Titan submersible disaster killed all five people on board, including Paul-Henri Nargeolet, who was director of underwater research for RMS Titanic

PORTLAND: The company that owns the salvage rights to the Titanic is undertaking its first expedition to the ship’s wreckage in years, and those involved in the mission said they have both heavy hearts and lofty goals for a trip happening a year after a submersible disaster involving another firm killed five people.
RMS Titanic Inc., a Georgia-based firm, holds the legal rights to salvage the wreck of the ship, which sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912. The company’s first expedition to the site since 2010 launched Friday from Providence, Rhode Island.
The voyage arrives as the worldwide community of undersea explorers is still reeling from the deadly implosion of an experimental submersible en route to the Titanic in June 2023. The Titan submersible disaster killed all five people on board, including Paul-Henri Nargeolet, who was director of underwater research for RMS Titanic.
This summer’s mission to the Titanic “means even more with the passing” of Nargeolet, known as “Mr. Titanic” by many, RMST Inc. president Jessica Sanders said.
The expedition will use modern imaging technology and remotely operated vehicles to capture detailed images of the Titanic, the wreckage site and the debris field, RMST Inc. representatives said.
“This monumental undertaking will allow us to document the Titanic in unprecedented detail and share new discoveries from the wreck site with the public, continuing the extraordinary work and passion of PH,” Sanders said.
The ship headed to the site, the Dino Chouest, will take several days to reach the site and is slated to return around Aug. 13, said Jon Hammond, a spokesperson for RMST Inc.
The work will allow the company to provide a comprehensive analysis of the current condition of the Titanic wreckage site and a detailed assessment of artifacts that can be safely targeted for future recovery, RMST Inc. representatives said.
Nargeolet made more than 35 dives to the Titanic in his lifetime. The implosion also killed Titan operator Stockton Rush; two members of a prominent Pakistani family, Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Suleman Dawood; and British adventurer Hamish Harding.

The Titanic leaves Southampton, England, April 10, 1912, on her maiden voyage. The company that owns the salvage rights to the Titanic is undertaking its first expedition to the wreckage of the ship in 14 years, and those involved in the mission said they have both heavy hearts and lofty goals for the trip. (AP/File)

OceanGate, a company co-founded by Rush that owned the submersible, suspended operations a year ago. The US Coast Guard convened a high-level investigation into what happened, but it has taken longer than expected and it’s unclear when the investigation will conclude.
Undersea explorers are waiting to learn the results of the investigation and RMST Inc.’s trip to the Titanic site is an important milestone in the site’s exploration, said Katy Croff Bell, founder of the Ocean Discovery League.
“The Coast Guard investigation is still ongoing and they have not released their results yet, so the final chapter in this episode has yet to come out,” Bell said. “One thing that has come out is there is perhaps more interest.”
This month’s journey to the Titanic also will allow comparison to 2010 imaging, RMST Inc. representatives said. The mission also may result in discovery of new areas of the debris field, previously unknown marine life and new areas of deterioration that could provide unobstructed access to the interior of the ship, the company stated on its website.
The vessel making the trip is equipped with two remotely operated vehicles that will be used to capture the first end-to-end mapping image of the wreck field and debris site, RMST Inc. said.
The expedition will include “the highest resolution camera systems ever deployed at the site in an effort to bring new insights about the ship to the community,” said Evan Kovacs, an underwater cinematographer working on the mission.


France’s Bastille Day parade meets the Olympic torch relay in an exceptional year

Updated 14 July 2024
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France’s Bastille Day parade meets the Olympic torch relay in an exceptional year

  • Bastille Day marks the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris on July 14, 1789
  • The Olympic torch relay is joining up with thousands of troops marching in Paris beneath roaring fighter jets to mark Bastille Day

PARIS: Paris hosted an extra-special guest for France’s national holiday Sunday — the Olympic flame lighting up the city’s grandiose military parade for Bastille Day.
Just 12 days before the French capital hosts exceptionally ambitious and high-security Summer Games, the torch relay joined up with thousands of soldiers, sailors, rescuers and medics marching in Paris beneath roaring fighter jets.
While people around France mark the day with concerts, parties and fireworks, here’s a look at what the holiday’s about, and what’s different this year:
What does Bastille Day celebrate?
On July 14, 1789, revolutionaries stormed the Bastille fortress and prison in Paris, heralding the start of the French Revolution and the end of the monarchy.
The holiday is central to the French calendar, with events across the country. It aims to embody the national motto of ‘’liberty, equality and fraternity,” though not everyone in France feels the country lives up to that promise.
The Paris parade is the holiday’s highlight. This year, it paid tribute to those who freed France from Nazi occupation 80 years ago, with a re-enactment of the D-Day landings of June 6, 1944, and a presentation by service members from the 31 countries whose troops contributed to the liberation. About half are African nations that were under French colonial rule during World War II.
Who takes part?
Some 4,000 people and 162 horses marched in the tightly choreographed show, among them units that served in NATO missions in eastern Europe, against Islamic extremists in the Sahel, protecting French territories in the South Pacific and global shipping corridors. They were joined this year by three German officers from a cross-border brigade.
The ornamental uniforms are rich in symbolism — most notably those of the French Foreign Legion sappers, with long beards, leather aprons and axes from their original role as route-clearers for advancing armies.
Overhead, 65 aircraft flew in formations, including a British Typhoon fighter alongside French Mirages and Rafales, rescue helicopters and aircraft used in missions from Afghanistan to Mali or international drug busts.
President Emmanuel Macron kicked Sunday’s events off with a review of the troops.
Military bands and choirs played an important role, performing a medley of French military songs, American jazz tunes, a Scottish bagpipe ballad — and the Marseillaise.
The numbers are scaled back compared with previous years, because of Olympics security measures. Around 130,000 police are deployed around France for the holiday weekend.
What’s the political context?
This year’s Bastille Day offered Macron a moment of distraction from the political turmoil he unleashed with snap elections that weakened his pro-business centrist party and his presidency.
The result left a deadlocked parliament with no one clearly in charge. The prime minister could leave office within days, while the left-wing alliance that won the most seats is struggling to agree on a proposed replacement.
Meanwhile, Russia’s war in Ukraine is threatening Europe’s security. At a meeting with military leaders Saturday, Macron said France will keep up support for Ukraine and called for higher defense spending next year because of ‘’approaching threats.’’
What’s different this year?
The Olympic torch relay reached Paris just in time.
The parade wrapped up with the arrival of the flame, escorted by riders on horseback, 25 torchbearers, and cadets dressed in the five Olympic colors forming the shapes of the five interlocking Olympic rings.
The first torchbearer was Col. Thibault Vallette, equestrian gold medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympics, who passed it on to a group of young athletes smiling broadly as they passed it hand-to-hand in front of the presidential tribune.
Usually, the parade travels from the Napoleon-era Arc de Triomphe to the Concorde plaza, where France’s last king and queen were beheaded.
This year, Concorde has been transformed into a huge Olympic venue for breakdancing, skateboarding and BMX. So the parade route headed to the Bois de Boulogne park on the city’s edge instead.
Olympic venue construction around the Eiffel Tower means spectators can’t gather beneath the monument to watch its annual fireworks show, either.
After its Bastille Day appearance, the torch relay will swing by Notre Dame Cathedral, the historic Sorbonne university and the Louvre Museum before heading to other Paris landmarks Monday.


Eight female bodies recovered from Nairobi dump: police

Updated 14 July 2024
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Eight female bodies recovered from Nairobi dump: police

NAIROBI: A total of eight bodies, all of them female, have been recovered so far from a dumpsite in a Nairobi slum, Kenya’s acting police chief said on Sunday.
“They were severely dismembered in different states of decomposition and left in sacks,” Douglas Kanja told a press conference, adding that investigations into the gruesome find are ongoing.
Kanja said the first six corpses were found on Friday and body parts of another two women were found on Saturday.
“I would like to assure the public that we are committed to conducting transparent, thorough and swift investigations,” he added.
Kanja also called for public cooperation in the investigation “so that we bring the perpetrators of these heinous acts to book.”
Kanja took up his post only this week after the resignation of national police chief Japhet Koome in the wake of public fury over the deaths of dozens of protesters during anti-government demonstrations last month.


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

Updated 14 July 2024
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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
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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.