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Iran not behind Mideast protests: Mullen

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DOHA – Iran foments instability in the Middle East but is not behind popular protests in Bahrain and other countries in the region, top US military officer Admiral Mike Mullen said Monday in Qatar.

“Iran, I still believe, is a country that continues to foment instability in the region, take advantage of every opportunity,” said Mullen, who is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

But “from my perspective that has not been the principal focus of what happened in Egypt or what happened in Bahrain or any of these other countries,” he said, referring to popular protests against various Middle East regimes.

“Those are by and large internal issues, as opposed to issues fomented by some external forces,” Mullen said, although “there’s always concerns in this region with Iran and certainly the US has them as well as all the regional players.”

Iran “was part of the discussions today with the Saudis,” Mullen said.

Mullen, who began Sunday a Gulf tour in Saudi Arabia, could travel to Bahrain, where the US Fifth Fleet is headquartered, as part of his trip, people travelling with him said.

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Protests in the tiny Gulf kingdom, which is ruled by a Sunni dynasty but has a Shiite majority, began on February 14, and are still ongoing.

Seven demonstrators have been killed since the anti-regime protests began, according to an AFP tally based on relatives of victims and opposition officials.

However, the US navy has said the demonstrations have not disrupted American operations in the kingdom.

“As far as Fifth Fleet operations, no, the demonstrations have not had any impact here — we’re continuing to conduct our regular business out here,” a spokesman for the Fifth Fleet told AFP on Monday.

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In the Qatari capital Doha, Mullen met with Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and army chief of staff General Hamad al-Attiyah.

Mullen is to also travel to the United Arab Emirates, Djibouti, possibly Bahrain, and then to Kuwait to participate in ceremonies marking the 20th anniversary of the liberation of the country from Iraqi occupation.

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QAnon authors in a fight over doing an audiobook — because they think their followers can’t read

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On Monday, The Daily Beast reported that the authors of a popular book for believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory are in a bitter fight over whether or not to release an audiobook version.

QAnon: An Invitation to The Great Awakening came out last year and peaked near the top of the Amazon bestseller list in March. One of the book's co-authors, Dustin Nemos, is publicly attacking another co-author, who goes by the name of "JoeM," for his "petty and hostile and paranoid" refusal to help produce an audiobook, and notes that it is necessary because a disproportionate number of QAnon believers are elderly, have bad eyesight, and may not be able to read the book as text. JoeM, for his part, has accused Nemos of being a "grifter" who is trying to make a buck off of true believers.

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Missouri governor appoints judge who fundraised for crisis pregnancy center to help decide Planned Parenthood’s license

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On Monday, the Associated Press reported that Gov. Mike Parson (R-MO) has appointed former Macon County Associate Circuit Judge Philip Prewitt to the Administrative Hearing Commission, a state agency that oversees disputes between the state and organizations seeking licensure.

Prewitt, a former Republican candidate for office, once fundraised on Facebook for Ray of Hope Pregnancy Care Ministeries, a "crisis pregnancy center" that masquerades as a health care facility in order to trick women seeking abortions into listening to anti-abortion propaganda. In 2015, the Missouri Supreme Court reprimanded Prewitt for the post encouraging people to donate, saying that it violated judicial ethics rules.

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Trump being a ‘compulsive liar and erratic ignoramus’ is why he failed on Iran: Conservative columnist

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President Donald Trump's highly-criticized decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal has resulted as was warned, with the country reviving its nuclear program, a conservative columnist explained in The Washington Post on Monday.

Conservative Max Boot took a victory lap in the hard-hitting column, reminding that he had signed a March 2016 letter by 121 Republican foreign policy analysts warning about Trump's approach.

"I wish we had been wrong, but we were all too right," Boot wrote.

"Trump has shown no ability to grow in office; but then it’s hard to learn if you all you read is Fox News chyrons. He is today the same compulsive liar and erratic ignoramus he was at the start of the 2016 campaign," Boot said. "Only now, the stakes are much higher."

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