US Muslim Candidates Run in Record Numbers But Face Backlash

A liberal woman of color with zero name recognition and little funding takes down a powerful, long serving congressman from her own political party.

When Tahirah Amatul-Wadud heard about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning upset over U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s Democratic primary last month, the first-time candidate saw parallels with her own longshot campaign for Congress in western Massachusetts.

The 44-year-old Muslim, African-American civil rights lawyer, who is taking on a 30-year congressman and ranking Democrat on the influential House Ways and Means Committee, said she wasn’t alone, as encouragement, volunteers and donations started pouring in.

“We could barely stay on top of the residual love,” said Amatul-Wadud, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal’s lone challenger in the state’s Sept. 4 Democratic primary. “It sent a message to all of our volunteers, voters and supporters that winning is very possible.”

From Congress to state legislatures and school boards, Muslim Americans spurred to action by the anti-Muslim policies and rhetoric of President Donald Trump and his supporters are running for elected offices in numbers not seen since before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, say Muslim groups and political observers.

Many, like Amatul-Wadud, hope to ride the surge of progressive activism within the Democratic Party that delivered Ocasio-Cortez’s unlikely win and could help propel the Democrats back to power in November.

Still, the path to victory can be tougher for a Muslim American. Some promising campaigns already have fizzled out while many more face strong anti-Muslim backlash.

In Michigan, Democrat candidate for governor Abdul El-Sayed continues to face unfounded claims from a GOP rival that he has ties to the controversial Muslim Brotherhood, even though Republican and Democratic politicians alike have denounced the accusations as “conspiracy theories.”

In Rochester, Minnesota, mayoral candidate Regina Mustafa has notified authorities of at least two instances where anti-Muslim threats were posted on her social media accounts.

And in Arizona, U.S. Senate candidate Deedra Abboud received a torrent of Islamophobic attacks on Facebook last July that prompted outgoing U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, the Republican lawmaker Abboud is hoping to replace, to come to her defense on Twitter.

“I’m a strong believer that we have to face this rhetoric,” said Abboud, who has also had right-wing militant groups the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights and the Proud Boys stage armed protests her campaign events. “We can’t ignore it or pretend like it’s a fringe element anymore. We have to let the ugly face show so that we can decide if that is us.”

There were as many as 90 Muslim-Americans running for national or statewide offices this election cycle, a number that Muslim groups say was unprecedented, at least in the post-9/11 era.

In this Monday, June 18, 2018, photo, attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, left, who is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., greets residents of an apartment complex while campaigning in Springfield, Mass.

In this Monday, June 18, 2018, photo, attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, left, who is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., greets residents of an apartment complex while campaigning in Springfield, Mass.

But recent primaries have whittled the field down to around 50, a number that still far exceeds the dozen or so that ran in 2016, said Shaun Kennedy, co-founder of Jetpac, a Massachusetts nonprofit that helps train Muslim-American candidates.

Among the candidates to fall short were California physician Asif Mahmood, who placed third in last month’s primary for state insurance commissioner, despite raising more than $1 million. And in Texas, wealthy businessman Tahir Javed finished a distant second in his Democratic primary for Congress, despite an endorsement from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

Nine candidates for Congress are still in the running, according to Jetpac’s tally. At least 18 others are campaigning for state legislature and 10 more seek major statewide and local offices, such as governor, mayor and city council. Even more are running for more modest offices like local planning board and school committee.

The next critical stretch of primaries is in August.

In Michigan, at least seven Muslim Americans are on the Aug. 7 ballot, including El-Sayed, who could become the nation’s first Muslim governor.

In Minnesota, the decision by Keith Ellison, the nation’s first Muslim congressman, to run for state attorney general has set off a political frenzy for his congressional seat that includes two Muslim candidates, both Democrats: Ilhan Omar, the country’s first Somali-American state lawmaker, and Jamal Abdulahi, a Somali-American activist.

But historic wins in those and other races are far from assured, cautions Geoffrey Skelley, an associate editor at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan political analysis website run by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

Omar’s chances of emerging from a field of five Democratic candidates in Minnesota’s Aug. 14 primary was bolstered by a recent endorsement from the state Democratic Party, but El-Sayed is an underdog in his gubernatorial race, he said.

Other Muslim-American candidates might fare better in Michigan, which has one of the nation’s largest Arab-American populations, Skelley added.

Attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, who is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., right, leaves her campaign office with intern Michael Lachenmeyer, in Chicopee, Mass., Monday, June 18, 2018.

Attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, who is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., right, leaves her campaign office with intern Michael Lachenmeyer, in Chicopee, Mass., Monday, June 18, 2018.

There, former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib has raised more money than her Democratic rivals in the race to succeed Democratic Rep. John Conyers, who resigned last year amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Former Obama administration official Fayrouz Saad is also running as a Democrat in the wide open race to succeed Republican Rep. David Trott, who isn’t seeking re-election.

Either could become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress, which has only ever had two Muslim members: outgoing Ellison and Rep. Andre Carson, an Indiana Democrat seeking re-election.

Saad, who served most recently as director of Detroit’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, recognizes the importance of representing her community in an era of rising Islamophobia.

The 35-year-old broke from the conservative Republican politics of her Lebanese immigrant parents following the 9/11 attacks because she felt Arabs and Muslims were unfairly targeted.

“I felt the way to push back against that was to be at the table,” said Saad, adding that her parents’ political leanings have also since moved to the left. “We have to step up and be voices for our communities and not wait for others to speak on behalf of us.”

But not all Muslim candidates feel that way.

In San Diego, California, 37-year-old Republican congressional candidate Omar Qudrat declined to comment on how Islamophobia has impacted his campaign, including instances when his faith have been called into question by members of his own political party.

Instead, the political newcomer, who is one of at least three Muslim Republicans running nationwide this year, provided a statement touting his main campaign issues as faces Democratic U.S. Rep. Scott Peters in November: addressing San Diego’s high number of homeless military veterans, improving public education and expanding economic opportunities for city residents.

“Running for public office is about advancing the interests of your constituents and the American people,” Qudrat’s statement reads. “Nothing else.”

EU, Japan to Sign Massive Trade Deal as US Puts up Barriers

The European Union’s top officials arrive in Japan Tuesday to sign the single market’s biggest trade deal ever and present a united front as Washington upends the international trade order.

EU Council President Donald Tusk and Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker land in Japan after talks in Beijing, where they urged global trade cooperation and warned against trade wars.

“It is the common duty of Europe and China, but also America and Russia, not to destroy (the global trade order) but to improve it, not to start trade wars which turned into hot conflicts so often in our history,” Tusk said Monday in Beijing.

“There is still time to prevent conflict and chaos.”

The “landmark” EU-Japan deal creates a massive economic zone and stands in stark contrast to President Donald Trump’s “America First” protectionism.

The deal, agreed last December, is “the biggest ever negotiated by the European Union,” according to Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas.

“This agreement will create an open trade zone covering nearly a third of the world’s GDP,” he said.

The EU — the world’s biggest single market with 28 countries and 500 million people — is trying to boost alliances in the face of Trump’s protectionist administration.

The EU-Japan deal will send a “strong signal to the world” against US protectionism, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said recently.

Trump’s administration has angered traditional allies like the EU and Japan by imposing trade tariffs, while rattling international markets by threatening a trade war with China.

On Sunday, the US president fueled rising rancor by labelling the EU, along with Russia and China, “a foe” of the United States, and repeating his assertion that the EU has “really taken advantage of us on trade.”

The EU officials and Japan will also look to present a united front against US tariffs on steel and aluminum, which Tokyo has called “deplorable.”

Under the trade agreement, the EU will open its market to Japan’s auto industry, with Tokyo in return scrapping barriers to EU farming products, especially dairy.

The EU is seeking access to one of the world’s richest markets, while Japan hopes to jump-start an economy that has struggled to find solid growth.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had been scheduled to sign the deal in Brussels last week, but cancelled his trip after devastating floods that killed more than 220 people.

Obama in Kenya for First Visit to Africa Since Leaving White House

Former U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Kenya on Sunday for his first visit to Africa since leaving the White House. On Monday, he spoke at the small village that was his late father’s homeland.

This is the fifth time that Obama has visited Kenya, his father’s birthplace.

Upon arriving in Nairobi on Sunday, he held talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga. On Monday, he inaugurated the Sauti Kuu Foundation, a sports and vocational training center set up by his half-sister in the small western Kenyan town of Kogelo.

Kogelo was the hometown of Barack Obama Sr. The former president last visited the village in 2006 when he was a U.S. senator.

Former US President, Barack Obama (2L) poses for a photograph with local young beneficiaries on July 16, 2018 during the opening of the Sauti Kuu Resource Centre, founded by his half-sister, Auma Obama (3R) at Kogelo in Siaya county, western Kenya.

Former US President, Barack Obama (2L) poses for a photograph with local young beneficiaries on July 16, 2018 during the opening of the Sauti Kuu Resource Centre, founded by his half-sister, Auma Obama (3R) at Kogelo in Siaya county, western Kenya.

In his speech Monday, Obama stressed the need for youth empowerment for development to occur in Africa.

“It begins with our young people in places like this, all of us providing the educational and economic and cultural opportunities that can empower some of the remarkable young people that you saw here today with the skills and the self-reliance to first change their own lives and then change their communities.”

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta meets former U.S. President Barack Obama (C) and Auma Obama at State House Nairobi, July 15, 2018.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta meets former U.S. President Barack Obama (C) and Auma Obama at State House Nairobi, July 15, 2018.

The former president applauded efforts by Kenyatta and Odinga to work together, after a prolonged and disputed presidential election in 2017.

“There has been real progress in this amazing country, and it should inspire today’s young Kenyans to demand even more progress,” he said. “The good news is that Kenya has a new constitution, it has a new spirit of investment and entrepreneurship. Despite some of the tumultuous times that seem to attend every election, we now have a president and a major opposition leader who have pledged bridges and have made specific commitments to work together. So, what we see here in Kenya is all part of an emergent, more confident and more self-reliant Africa.”

Obama also urged Kenyans to move past the ethnic tensions that have fueled violence during past election cycles and root out corruption that limits Kenya’s economic growth.

“It means no longer seeing different ethnicities as enemies or rivals but rather as allies and seeing the diversity of tribes not as a weakness but a strength,” he said. “It means making sure that economic growth reaches everyone, and not just a few at the top, that’s broadly shared across regions. It means guaranteeing educational opportunities to everybody, not just our boys but also our girls, because a nation that gives our daughters the same opportunities as our girls is more likely to succeed.”

The former U.S. president left Monday evening for South Africa, where he will deliver the 16th annual Nelson Mandela Lecture in Johannesburg.

Trump Talks Re-Election, His Brexit Chat with Queen

U.S. President Donald Trump said he intends to run for re-election in 2020 because “everybody wants me to” and there are no Democratic candidates who could defeat him, the Mail on Sunday newspaper reported.

Asked by British journalist Piers Morgan in an interview Friday whether he was going to run in 2020, Trump was quoted by the Mail on Sunday as saying: “Well I fully intend to. It seems like everybody wants me to.”

Trump said he did not see any Democrat who could beat him: “I don’t see anybody. I know them all and I don’t see anybody.”

U.S. President Donald Trump with Queen Elizabeth II inspects the Guard of Honour at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England, July 13, 2018.

U.S. President Donald Trump with Queen Elizabeth II inspects the Guard of Honour at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England, July 13, 2018.

Conversation with the queen

Before leaving Britain for a summit in Finland with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump breached British royal protocol by publicly disclosing the details of a conversation he had with Queen Elizabeth about the complexities of Brexit.

When asked if he discussed Brexit with the monarch when they met for tea at Windsor Castle on Friday, Trump said:

“I did. She said it’s a very — and she’s right — it’s a very complex problem, I think nobody had any idea how complex that was going to be. … Everyone thought it was going to be ‘Oh it’s simple, we join or don’t join, or let’s see what happens.’”

Speaking of the 92-year-old queen, Trump was quoted as saying: “She is an incredible woman, she is so sharp, she is so beautiful, when I say beautiful — inside and out. That is a beautiful woman.”

Asked if Trump felt the queen had liked him, he said: “Well I don’t want to speak for her, but I can tell you I liked her. So usually that helps. But I liked her a lot.

“Just very elegant. And very beautiful. It was really something special,” Trump said of the meeting. “She is so sharp, so wise, so beautiful. Up close, you see she’s so beautiful. She’s a very special person.”

Trump-Putin summit

During an uproarious trip to Europe, Trump has harangued members of the NATO military alliance, scolded Germany for its dependence on Russian energy, and shocked Britain by publicly criticizing Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit strategy.

Trump later apologized to May for the furor over his withering public critique, blaming “fake news” and promising instead a bilateral trade agreement with Britain after it leaves the European Union in March 2019.

Of his upcoming meeting with Putin on Monday, Trump was more guarded.

“I think we could probably get along very well. Somebody said are you friends or enemies? I said well it’s too early to say,” Trump was quoted as saying by the Mail on Sunday.

“Right now I say we’re competitors but for the United States, and frankly the UK and other places, to get along with Russia and China and all of these other places… that’s a good thing, that’s not a bad thing. That’s a really good thing.”

Italy's Salvini Doesn't Rule Out EU Veto on Russia Sanctions

Italy’s populist government is hoping to convince the European Union to lift sanctions against Russia but won’t rule out using its veto if diplomacy fails.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said Italy planned to use “good manners, the art of diplomacy, numbers and evidence” to persuade other countries that EU sanctions against Russia were hurting Europe as a whole.

The EU sanctions were extended for another six months last week.

Speaking Monday in Moscow, Salvini said vetoing a further extension of sanctions “doesn’t scare us.” He said: “I don’t exclude anything.”

Italy has vowed to relax sanctions against Russia, which it says has hurt the Italian economy through decreased tourism and exports. Salvini said Monday the Italian economy was losing 7 million euros ($8.2 million) a day due to the sanctions.


How to enable higher quality screenshots on the OnePlus 6/5T/5 [Root]

The OnePlus 6 is certainly a stellar device, but it’s not perfect. One minor issue with its software, known as OxygenOS, is that screenshots are saved in the compressed JPEG format, rather than the Android-default PNG. It’s nice for saving space, but especially in scrolling screenshots, there can be a big drop off in quality. Thanks to a Magisk Module developed by XDA Member angelsel, you can enable higher quality screenshots on your OnePlus 6, OnePlus 5T, or OnePlus 5. Because it’s a Magisk module, you’ll need to unlock the bootloader of your device, install TWRP, and install Magisk.

Steps to get high-quality screenshots on the OnePlus 6, OnePlus 5T, and OnePlus 5

Step 1 – Root your phone

You’ll need to unlock the bootloader and root your phone via Magisk. It’s a simple task on the OnePlus 5T and the OnePlus 5, though you may have trouble on the OnePlus 6. We recommend following this tutorial by XDA Recognised Contributor Funk Wizard in the case of the OnePlus 6, this tutorial for the OnePlus 5, and this one for the OnePlus 5T.

Step 2 – Install the Magisk Module

You’ll now need to download and install the Magisk module. Download it from the link below, and then flash it in TWRP.

PNG Patch Magisk Module

If you’re on the OnePlus 5T or the OnePlus 5, don’t forget to wipe the cache. The OnePlus 6 is an A/B partition device, so wiping the cache doesn’t do anything on devices supporting seamless updates.

Step 3 – Reboot

On the OnePlus 6, you’ll run into problems at first boot. You won’t be able to take screenshots and you’ll get an error telling you it can’t be saved. This goes away after a few minutes, so just wait it out. Once it starts working, take a screenshot and go to your Gallery. View the details of the screenshot, and you should see it’s now saving PNG files.

oneplus 6 screenshots

Note that after first boot, screenshots work from there on out—even after a reboot. That’s it! You should now have higher-quality PNG screenshots on your OnePlus 5, OnePlus 5T, or OnePlus 6.

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Understanding the emoji of solidarity

When disaster or tragedy strikes, people far away are touched and want to help – but really can’t do much. Often the first thing distant observers do is take to social media to send their thoughts, prayers, support and good wishes for survivors, rescue workers and others affected. And a lot of times, those online posts involve emoji – as well as hashtags in the poster’s own language, and other languages.

First created in the late 1990s, emoji became prominent worldwide in 2015 when the Oxford Dictionaries named the “face with tears of joy” emoji 😂 the word of the year. Social media posts often use emoji because they are so expressive in so few characters. Combining emoji with text can be a very efficient way to communicate.

Our research analyzed emoji and their accompanying text to identify how people used emoji to express solidarity on Twitter during two crises, the November 13, 2015, terror attacks in Paris and the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irma in August and September 2017. The existing research on emoji use hasn’t looked at how people communicate support on social media. We were able to quickly see that rather than depictions of the person having an emotional reaction, most tweets expressing solidarity included non-face emoji.

Showing support

Non-face emoji can help clarify readers’ perceptions of the message. As the Paris attacks unfolded, the most common support emoji were flags of different countries like Russia 🇷🇺, the U.K. 🇬🇧 and the U.S. 🇺🇸, alongside the French flag 🇫🇷. These, we know, were from people in other countries sending their thoughts to those affected in France. Other related emoji didn’t express solidarity, but conveyed what was happening: Tweets around the Paris attacks used 🔴 and ☎️ to indicate danger and information.

For the Hurricane Irma event, solidarity was expressed with the help of different kinds of hearts, like ❤️ and 💙. A unique characteristic of solidarity during Hurricane Irma event expressed concern for the animals affected, like 🐈, 🐕 and 🐷. Flag emoji were not as prominent as during the Paris attacks.

Co-occurring emoji

Often people use emoji paired together. During the Paris attacks, for instance, people sending love to France posted the 🇫🇷❤️ pair. During Hurricane Irma, people sending thoughts and love posted the 🙏❤️ emoji from afar. People in regions affected by the storm often posted the 💨😳 pair.

A network diagram shows how people from outside the affected regions used pairs of emoji to express emotions about Hurricane Irma. Santhanam et al., CC BY-ND

By contrast, during Hurricane Irma, the most commonly used emoji pairs in tweets from from outside the storm’s area included the sorrow emoji 😔 with either the flag of Antigua and Barbuda 🇦🇬 or Cuba 🇨🇺.

As both events unfolded, tweets carried a steady stream of positive emoji, like 💓 and 💗, which continued into the days afterward. Negative emoji, like 😔 and 💔, on the other hand, peaked at key points – as Hurricane Irma moved closer to the U.S., and during the night of the Paris attacks – but disappeared almost completely afterward.

Documenting how people use emoji to communicate about large disasters offers a new window into human behavior, including how it evolves over time and across the world. In the future, we hope to explore emoji use in connection with collective social movements like #MeToo and #MarchForOurLives.