Chatting with Barney Frank on campaigns

My interview with former Democratic congressman Barney Frank on the financial struggles of running for office. He showed up to a fundraiser on Cape Cod to help a former state senate candidate retire her campaign debt over the weekend:


Posted in U.S. politics | Leave a comment

More Syrian reactions to Trump’s shift in policy

While Syrians in rebel territories praised Trump following his decision to bomb Assad’s air force, there remain doubts about what US policy is. We spoke to two Halab Today TV correspondents and Northeastern University professor Max Abrahms for this one:

Posted in Syria | Leave a comment

Arabic Twitter praises Trump after bombing of Syrian air force

Concerns about Trump’s statements on Muslims seemed to whither away late Thursday night as Arabs on Twitter celebrated the US bombing of the Syrian air force’s Shayrat airfield.

Trump only took seven months to make a decision. The Arabs had seven years.

The Arabic-language hashtag “America bombs Bashar’s regime” began trending after the attack, with Bashar referring to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

America is more merciful than the butcher Assad.

Trump has always enjoyed some support in segments of Middle Eastern society, but for other reasons, including his criticisms of the Iraq War and US involvement in Syria, as well as his anti-ISIS positions.

The Twitter celebrations by no means represented all of Syria, where Assad maintains considerable support in many of the areas under his control. But they marked a shift in his image in the Arab world.

Posted in Syria | 1 Comment

Red in a blue city: New Yorkers for Trump

New York — Although New York City is President Donald Trump’s hometown, his critics far outnumber his supporters in The Big Apple. They are there, however. Osai, a resident of the Bronx, is one of them. On March 4th, he made the long schlepp on the subway to show his support for the president, standing in the cold for three hours while engaging in political conversation. “The mainstream media thinks that Donald Trump supporters are racist,” he said. “But here am I, a person of color, a Trump supporter.”

As a teen, as a minority, and as a New Yorker, Osai experienced something new at his first Trump rally: he isn’t usually in the company of so many Trump supporters. He said he only knows “one, maybe two” in the Bronx. “I try to keep it silent, only if people really want to know about it do I say I support Trump casually,” Osai said, referring to his neighborhood. “If I say I’m a hardcore Trump supporter, or a Republican in general, then I get a lot of questions and a lot of criticism for that.”

Like many of his fellow Trumpers, Osai was pushed to Trump’s camp by concerns about the economy, illegal immigration and globalism. Take a look at the following images of New Yorkers for Trump.

3-ChinaA group of Chinese-American Trump supporters at the March 4th rally. “They keep protesting. It’s not good for the country. We need to unite,” said Amber Jing, right, referring to the counter protests across the street. “It’s not for the Chinese. We need equal opportunity and law enforcement.”

2-Legal immigrantOne of a handful of second generation immigrants at the rally.

1-JapanRocky Uchoamura, a Japanese immigrant to the US. Uchoamura said globalism has hurt both the Japanese and US economies. At the rally, he handed out books by Ryuho Okawa, founder of the Happy Science religious movement in Japan, sometimes referred to as a “cult”.

4-IsraelA man sporting a “Make American Great Again” hat while holding a Gadsden flag — an icon of the Tea Party Movement. On his back, an Israeli flag.

5-BrazilA Brazilian woman, who only spoke Portuguese and some Spanish. To the left, another man with a Gadsden flag.

6-RussiaA Russian flag sign with “Trump” written on it in Cyrllic letters. The man holding it was heckled. One man shouted “get outta here” and “go back to Russia” at him, another accused him of being a CIA plant, and finally, a woman took his sign. It eventually ended up in the trash.

A pin in support of Brexit. Will Marine Le Pen’s election in France be the next victory for nationalism (or racism to her critics) in the West?

A passerby cheers on the Trump supporters.

7-RallyFlags waving towards the end of the rally. Some cars honked in support as they drove by. All in all, around 100 attended. A few passersby stopped by the Trump camp to converse and debate, a few to yell. Across the street, a few hundred counter protesters had gathered by the end.

The rally was first announced on Facebook, and then spread. Henry Grullon, one of the organizers, also took the subway from his Bronx home to attend. “The Bronx is about 92% Democrat, 8% Republican,” said Grullon, amidst “U-S-A” chants beside him. “Being of Latino descent, and American-born, I get a lot of backlash.”

Posted in New York, U.S. politics | 6 Comments

From Brazil to Cape Cod

Cape Cod is not just a summer destination; it’s home to a large year-round Brazilian community. Each week, about a hundred of them get together to play futsal – a type of indoor soccer. Despite being located in a small beach town and only played in the winter, the league is competitive, and some of the players have tried out for MLS teams. My latest for Cape Cod Times:


Posted in Cape Cod | Leave a comment

Kurdish General Wahed Kovle: ‘loved and feared’

Peshmerga General Wahed Kovle died February 3 of a brain stroke, according to Kurdistan 24. Kovle commanded the Dohuk anti-terror unit in Baqofah, Iraq: an Assyrian village in the Nineveh province north of Mosul, and was admired by his soldiers.

Mike, an Iraqi-born refugee from Norway better known by his Instagram handle @peshmerganor, fought under Kovle in the Mosul, Tel Eskof and other battles, and remembers him as a general’s general.

“He was always fearless in battle and would never allow anyone to be in front of him,” said Mike. “He was always up front with an RPG or Panzerfaust, making sure that he would be the first man to face danger.” Mike is the name he gives to Norwegian and international media.

The Dohuk anti-terror unit participated in Peshmerga operations against ISIS in the battle for Mosul starting in 2016. They helped liberate neighboring Batnaya from ISIS the same month.

Louis, a US Marine veteran and former volunteer with Baqofah-based Christian paramilitary group Dwekh Nawsha, says Kovle supported his troops in non-military ways too. 

“He always looked after his guys. Fed them when they didn’t get paid,” he said. Louis declines to give his full name to media. “He was loved and feared by all his men.”

(Baqofah, Iraq – Kurdistan Regional Government)

Posted in Iraq, Kurdistan | 2 Comments

Martha’s Vineyard Brazilians fear deportation

Martha’s Vineyard is known as an up-scale vacation spot for the rich and famous. The Obamas have vacationed there, as have many other elites. It’s year-round population includes the large Brazilian community. Some of have overstayed their visas illegally, and fear deportation under Trump. But one police department has released a bilingual pamphlet stating that they do not enforce federal immigration law, and serve to protect all residents. Latest for Cape Cod Times:

Posted in U.S. politics | Leave a comment